jesus-good-shepherd-06Dear Brother and Sisters,

Today the Acts of the Apostles, in our first reading, tells us bluntly: It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.

We have to wonder about this statement today when everyone wants everything to be easy and without hardship. We have to ponder how to speak about the kingdom of God in a way which draws people to embrace the kingdom and yet does not make the kingdom of God sound easy. For the early followers of Jesus, learning to have faith in Jesus as God was an incredible experience. Today our hearts are usually much more hardened and we do not easily believe that Jesus is God or that Jesus actually can and does touch our lives.

The second reading today, from the Book of Revelation, tells us: Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God.

In our hearts we can understand how astonishing it is that God wants to be present with us. Not only with us, but with the whole human race! God wants to be our God and wants us to be His people. For so many today, God simply does not exist or if He exists, He has no interest in our daily lives. So many of us have lost a sense of awe and wonder about the presence of God. The Gospel today, from Saint John, reminds us: This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Are others attracted to follow Jesus today because we who are His followers love one another? Are we seen more as an institution today rather than a group of people, following the Lord and caring for one another? How do we live that love that Jesus has for his followers? How do we love one another? If this love for another is the sign that we follow Jesus, how do we live such love more and more completely and profoundly?

We can see that the hardships that we endure are the hardships of striving to love one another. Loving everyone seems practically impossible. Yet this is the hardship that we must accept in order to follow the Lord. We can also understand that others see us striving to be faithful in love and accepting the hardships of loving one another, they can also understand that God is with us and that we are truly seeking to live as His people.

Christ is risen, alleluia! Because of that, because Jesus died for us and rose for us, we have the power and strength to remain faithful in love and service of one another. Let us ask the Spirit to strengthen us in the Easter joy so that our love and service of one another truly is witness of God’s love. Alleluia.

Father Jesus