Sunday readings here.
We are now into the fourth week of our homiletic series entitled “Invited into Eternity”, which we began on Easter Sunday. The theme of this series is that God the Father, from the dawn of creation has not only been inviting us to an eternal life in Heaven with Him but that He has done everything in His power to lure us, to coax us, and to entice us into accepting His invitation and continues to do so to this very day. That’s why He never gave up on Adam and Eve. It’s why He saved the world after the great flood. It’s why He called Abraham and started the nation of Israel. It’s why He continually had mercy on them after their ongoing rejection of His love. It’s why He sent Jesus and it’s why Jesus suffered and died for us, pouring out every last drop of His precious blood and it’s why He raised Jesus from the dead.
But His coaxing, His luring, His enticing didn’t stop there. Even after Jesus rose from the dead, humanity still did not understand, and so Jesus came back to try finally once and for all to get them to understand. That’s what the stories we’ve been hearing during this Easter season are all about.
He appeared to Mary Magdalen. He appeared to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. He appeared to the Apostles while those disciples were explaining to them what they saw, and then He appeared to the Apostles again because Thomas wasn’t there when He appeared the first time. Even after that the Apostles still headed back to their old livelihood of fishing, and Jesus appeared yet again, this time with breakfast prepared for them on the beach. But He is not just inviting us into eternity, He is inviting us into eternity with Him.
He is inviting us to a life of the very best kind. Now at this point there are two very obvious questions in my mind. Why does God do all this for us; why are we so important to Him; why does He put up with us? The second question is the flip side: Why don’t we just with absolutely positively with grateful hearts and open arms accept His invitation? I mean really, wouldn’t you think that if we were invited to live life of the very best kind we would sign up immediately? But we don’t. I think we can find one possible explanation in our Gospel today.
Of course we know that Jesus in this Gospel depicts Himself as the Good Shepherd who does what; who lays down His life for the sheep so that they might have life of the very best kind. But the problem for us might be that this means we need to see ourselves as sheep and we just might have a problem with that. I remember once in High School I gave a homily about the sheep and the goats, and a teacher came up to me and said something like, “Well Father, your homily would have worked quite well, accept that I am not a dumb sheep.” You know what? I think that teacher’s statement pretty well sums it up. If we are going to able to accept Jesus’s invitation to an eternal life of the very best kind, we need to be able to see ourselves as sheep in relation to Jesus the Good Shepherd. Actually, we need to be humble enough to be as smart as sheep who both can recognize who they are and who their shepherd is. And then maybe we can accept God’s invitation to an eternity with Him which is indeed the very best kind of life for us.
- Rev. Joseph Maloney, Pastor