Homily for the fourth Sunday of Easter - Year C - Jn. 10:27-30


by

Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 

" «My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.» "




Homily:


" «My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.» "


The Gospel for this fourth Sunday of Easter is extremely short, but has great density of meaning. The words are powerful, strong, very rich in doctrine and in pastoral application. The words of the Lord can be read in the context in which Jesus pronounced them: during the Feast of the Dedication of the Temple, some time before the Passover when Christ was arrested and condemned to death... But one can also read the words in the light of the Resurrection of the Lord, and in the fire of the Spirit of Pentecost.


" «My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.» "


When the risen Jesus appeared to his disciples on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias, he met Simon Peter and said to him: "Feed my sheep." (Jn. 21:17) With these words, Jesus confirms Peter in his charge as the Vicar of Christ: Peter must hold the place of Christ, as must all the Successors of Peter until the end of time. With these words, Jesus entrusts to Peter "his" sheep: he entrusts to him all the men and women the Father loves and wants to save through the death and resurrection of his only Son! With the words "Feed my sheep", it is no longer Jesus alone who is under the unique care of the Father, but also Simon Peter, the fisherman of Galilee who became a "fisher of men" (cf. Lk. 5:10).


Today, the sheep of the Lord are the sheep of Peter, who continues to watch over his flock, acting in the person of his Successor: the Pope. Today, the risen Jesus is in Heaven, in the glory and splendor of the Father, he and the Father sending the Spirit of Love and Peace to the entire world. The Holy Spirit teaches all who truly allow themselves to be taught, he reminds them of all that Jesus said to his disciples while he lived on the earth: "The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." (Jn. 14:26) But, in the benevolence of the Father, who loves Simon Peter as a son, the Holy Spirit teaches the sheep of Christ through the intermediary of Peter himself: the sheep of Christ, who are now the sheep of Peter, hear the voice of the Lord by listening to the breath of the Spirit, in obedience to the words of Peter and his Successors!


" «I know them, and they follow me.» "


Jesus knows absolutely all the men and women whom the Father loves and wants to save for eternal life. While this is true knowledge, it is especially a knowledge of love which Jesus possesses in the Holy Spirit, He who knows all "the thoughts of God" (1 Co. 2:11). Similarly, the ministry of Peter is a service of love and charity towards all the sheep of the Lord: Peter presides in charity! It is in this knowledge of love that the sheep follow Peter, and follow Jesus in Peter: "I know them, and they follow me." When the risen Jesus appeared to the disciples on the shore of the lake, he said to Peter: "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" (Jn. 21:15) And Peter answered: "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." (Jn. 21:17) Truly, the ministry of Peter is a service of love... love of God, men, sheep!


" «I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.» "


Jesus, the Living, the Resurrected, is eternal Life and he gives this life to his sheep: "I give them eternal life." Jesus is eternal Life, for he is God; and he gives eternal life, for, while he remains God, he is also, at the same time, Man: Jesus is the sole mediator between God and men. But, in his role as mediator, Jesus wanted to have partners. These partners are not his equals, for they are not God and Man as he is. But they are his servants: each one of them places his entire person at the service of Christ, and devotes himself, body and soul, to the Lord.


Among the collaborators chosen by Christ are the priests. Every day, and especially every Sunday, each one of them places his body and soul at the service of Christ and, taking bread, as the Lord did on the day before his Passion, he repeats in the name of Christ: "This is my Body", "This is my Blood". Then, the priest gives to the Lord's sheep eternal Life, saying: "Receive the Body of Christ." Among priests are, of course, Peter and his Successor, the Pope. Like Christ, Peter can apply to himself the words: "I give them eternal life." Devoted in body and soul, through love, Peter collaborates in the Work of the Lord by giving to Christ's sheep eternal Life!


" «No one shall snatch them out of my hand.» "


Saint Augustine spoke in the following way to those in his care, as he held the Eucharist in his hands: "Be what you see, and receive what you are." (Sermon 272, for Pentecost) In saying this, he associated the concept of the Body of Christ with the concept of the Mystical Body of Christ: the Church. "Be what you see": become similar to Christ whom you see under the appearances of bread and wine. "Receive what you are": receive the Eucharist in order to be - even more so - the Body of Christ, receive what you already are to a certain extent: the Church. Saint Augustine, and Saint Peter before him, could also have said: "No one shall snatch them out of my hand." For both of them held in their hand the Body of Christ, but also his Mystical Body: the Church! Both of them could have said in all truth, in the past as in the present: "No one shall snatch them out of my hand." For, in holding the Eucharist, they had in their hand the sheep of the Lord!


" «My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.» "


The Father watches over all creatures! His Love has no limit! He watches over each of his children with equal care! All that he desires is that we go to him, in Christ, in order that we too might be one with him. If we are one with Christ, then we will be able to say, like the Lord: "I and the Father are one." In fact, it is not we who will speak this word, but rather Christ who will speak it for us, for only he is the equal of God, being God himself. But, in order for Jesus to be able to speak on our behalf, let us receive him within us, during today's holy communion! Let us ask Mary, the holiest of Christ's collaborators and the one closest to him, to help us to receive within us the eternal Life that is in Jesus-Eucharist!



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