One message from our readings today is that we are to be hope filled people. Yes, we are to be people alive with the Spirit of God in the midst of a world that is often the voice of hate and anger, a world that is filled with struggles, challenges and encounters with evil.
In our first reading, Paul and Barnabas face a challenge in Antioch. Some of the people in the community do not like Paul and Barnabas’ message. They do not want these outsiders; they do not want their life changed. So they stir up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas. But the Spirit of God is alive in Paul and Barnabas, the Good News will be proclaimed. Those who read and hear the stories of the Acts of the Apostles are reminded that the Spirit of God will not be held back, it is a Spirit for all!
John in the Book of Revelation reminds the churches he is writing to, to stay strong, to remain hopeful. Even though they are struggling, and evil is around them God is with them. They are journeying through this life to something greater, to a place of plenty and peace, but they must remain strong. They need to trust always in God even in the midst of struggles, challenges and evil.
These two readings are words we need to hear today. The anger struggles and evil that we at time encounter in our world bond us to Paul, Barnabas and the early Church. The anger and hateful rhetoric that we seem to encounter in our world challenge us to be strong and remain hopeful. The anger, violence and evil of our world can often make us wonder and ask why? But in the spirit of Paul, Barnabas and John we are called to remain faith filled because we are on a journey to something better.
Perhaps in a similar way the challenges of our world today call us to listen in a special way for the voice of the Good Shepherd. Sometimes the noise of our world gets very loud, but the Good Shepherd’s voice is always calling us. Sometimes the leadership of our world, our country, our church, our culture and society is all about power, authority, money, influence and self-interest. Jesus in John’s Gospel today reminds us that true leadership is about service and being a Good Shepherd. Jesus’ image of leadership is about mercy, compassion, forgiveness, understanding, care, support and selflessness!
The readings today call us to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. A Good Shepherd who is always there especially in the midst of struggle, challenge, fear and evil. A Good Shepherd with a Spirit that cannot be denied. Let us listen, live and be God’s faith filled people of hope!
Have a great Sunday everyone and may the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in your heart!