Jesus_The_Good_Shepherd_Byzantine_IconMy sisters and brothers in Christ,

One of the joys of the first reading today is that it shows that God works in His own way to draw people into the Church. The normal way is Baptism and then the Holy Spirit. In the case of Cornelius and his household, it was the Holy Spirit first and then baptism. We followers of Jesus can sometimes find ourselves upset because God does not follow our rules. Instead, we are invited to be like Saint Peter and watch for the presence of God.

The second reading today, from the First Letter of Saint John, spells out clearly that we must love others–not by our own power and strength, but because we know that we are first loved by God. This lesson is also enormously important in the Church. We are invited each day to renew our knowledge that God loves us. Our love can only be a response to His love. When we begin to think that we are loving with our own power, then we fall into the trap of rules and regulations.

Does that mean that there are no rules and regulations in the Church as founded by Jesus? Not at all! Instead the rules and regulations are there to help us maintain order and to be clear that following Christ is not about feelings and sentiments, but about doing the right thing and doing good always. This is not always an easy path for the followers of Jesus. Jesus calls us to follow Him and His Church and that always implies obedience to the Word and to the Church. That obedience is always in freedom.

The Gospel from Saint John also reminds us that the test of true love, for the followers of Jesus, is the willingness to give my life for the sake of the other person. This is what Jesus has done for us: Jesus died so that we might live. Jesus rose so that we might have eternal life. We are more than halfway through the Easter Season and we continue to rejoice that Jesus died and rose from the
dead. Do I accept the trials and tribulations of ordinary daily life as signs of the Kingdom of God?

Jesus, help us follow you and give up our lives so that others may live.

Father Jesus