Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter, April 26
Jesus Is Truly the Gate Through Which Each of Us Shall Find Peace and Rest, and May His Voice Dispel Our Every Fear and Quiet Our Every Anxious Moment.
Jesus says to us in today’s Gospel, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
How many times in our lives have we thirsted for God’s Presence when faced with some trial or tribulation which takes away our peace or causes us anxiety or distress? How many times have we, or people we know, agonized over the thought that God may have abandoned us in our hour of greatest need or that He does not hear our prayers?
Unfortunately, there are many people who wander through life never truly knowing God, never living any kind of a relationship with Him. Theirs is a life of emptiness, a life which wanders aimlessly through valleys of despair and hopelessness, a soul which never truly finds the lasting peace and joy for which it yearns so desperately.
We hear, in the words of our psalmist today, words which speak to us of a longing, a deep-seated desire to touch the face of God and to feel secure – especially in times of sorrow, especially in times of disquieting concern and anxiety –
“As the hind longs for the running waters, so my soul longs for you, O God. Athirst is my soul for God, the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God?”
It was a few years ago when I was ministering to the homeless in a nearby city. On one occasion, a young woman, who was one of the homeless, walked up to me with a very forlorn and desperate expression on her face. With great sadness in her voice, she asked the question, “Does God love me? Does he hear my prayers?”
This was a woman who was expressing her belief in God, but who fell on hard times and was not able to find God in her sufferings.
Yet, it is in our sufferings where we find God closest to us. It is in our sufferings wherein the Good Shepherd is calling out to us, reminding us that He understands, that He empathizes with us – for He Himself was no stranger to human suffering!
In our personal anguish and distress, it is oftentimes difficult to hear His voice, especially when our minds and our hearts are overwhelmed by whatever difficulties may be affecting us. But it is His voice which leads us, supports us, and raises us up. It is His voice which inspires us and gives us hope and makes us feel safe and secure in this valley of tears through which each of us must travel.
And it is His voice which quenches our thirst and hunger for God’s Loving Presence in our lives. It is His voice to which we are drawn, for it is the Love of God which takes us by the hand and leads us, guiding our every footstep as we journey through life.
For as Jesus says to us today, “…he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice…I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”
And God’s voice invites peoples of all races, peoples of all colors, creeds and nationalities – for we are all children of the One and same Eternal Father in Heaven.
And we see this made abundantly clear in our First Reading today, in which Peter was given a vision of ministering to Gentiles, peoples of non-Jewish descent, a concept which was foreign to the Jewish way of thinking in his day.
God was teaching Peter and the other disciples that God does not discriminate between His children – that the salvific grace merited by Jesus Christ upon His Cross is meant for everyone. And the disciples exclaimed to Peter, “God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.”
Each of us thirsts to hear the voice of our Shepherd, just as the Responsorial Psalm gives us the imagery of deer that thirst for running streams of fresh water.
This thirsting is for His Truth which guides us safely throughout life’s journey, with its many ups and downs, its many peaks and valleys. We feel safe and comforted knowing that our Shepherd is always watching over us, protecting us and keeping us safe from all harm that would come from the Evil One.
Do we not pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “…deliver us from evil”? We are not unlike the sheep in the sheepfold in today’s parable, following the voice with which they are familiar, for it is this voice which comforts the sheep, a voice which helps them to feel safe and protected.
Jesus tells us that “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy.” And is that not what today’s secular society tries to do to us? Have not many elements of society tried to belittle and disparage our Christian faith and a life of virtue?
The very idea of the culture of life – a culture which recognizes the dignity and sanctity of life from conception to natural death – is foreign to so many people worldwide! The very idea of wholesome family values, recognizing the dignity and sanctity of marriage only between a man and a woman, is now falling on so many deaf ears!
Jesus’ words, “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy” rings so true, for it represents all those who are spiritually blind, like the Pharisees who were standing in the crowd to whom Jesus was addressing the parable in today’s Gospel!
And that is why it is so important that we take the time to quiet the busyness of our own minds and listen to the voice of our True Shepherd –
“I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”
We need to pray for not only those who have, for whatever reason, walked away from our family of faith, but also for those who truly “hunger and thirst for righteousness” and are not afforded that opportunity of knowing God in His fullness.
There are so many people in our world today who thirst for truth and justice in their own lives. There are so many people, like Cornelius and his household, the Gentile family in our First Reading, who thirst to know God better, and yet, unfortunately, are not given that opportunity, oftentimes due to no fault of their own.
As we continue to grow in our relationship with God, may we also hold in our hearts all those who truly thirst for those streams of life-giving water which refreshes us and quenches our thirst.
Jesus is truly the Gate through which each of us shall find peace and rest, as He said in today’s Gospel, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
May His voice dispel our every fear, quiet our every anxious moment, and bring all of God’s children the peace and joy for which we so earnestly pray! Amen. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “The LORD is my shepherd, there is nothing I lack…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.” (Psalm 23:1, 4)
- “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
- “The gatekeeper…walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice…I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” (John 10:4, 9)
- “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God. When can I enter and see the face of God?” (Psalm 42:2-3)
- “In the morning let me hear of your kindness, for in you I trust. Show me the path I should walk, for I entrust my life to you.” (Psalm 143:8)
- “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you…?” (Matthew 6:30abc)
- “My soul rests in God alone, from whom comes my salvation…My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope…Trust God at all times, my people! Pour out your hearts to God our refuge!” (Psalm 62:2, 6, 9)
- “May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord, furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will.” (Hebrews 13:20-21b)
- “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.” (Philippians 4:13)
Prayer for the Day
“Precious Blood and Eternal Word of God,Anonymous
You are my eternal salvation.
Lost in sin, You sought me out and found me;
You lifted me from the bottomless pit of perdition;
You liberated me from the darkness in which I was wandering.
“Treasuring my feeble soul,
You excused my constant frailties.
Forever, I am indebted to Your Mercy.
Your cost can never be repaid,
For You bought my freedom with Your own Blood;
You are my Shepherd who keeps me close to Your Heart.
“Most Holy and Incarnate Wisdom,
I will always seek You out, my Lord.
For You are the Eternal Gatekeeper who ensures my safety!
You are my beloved Deliverer!
You are the Lamb of God!
You, Jesus, are my most intimate Friend and Brother!
In You alone, Lord, do I fine my eternal peace and salvation.”