A Homily - Cycle C - 2012-2013
by Rev. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Acts 13:14, 43-52
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 5
Second Reading - Revelation 7:9, 14b-17
Gospel - John 10:27-30
John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
Jesus said: "My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father's hand. The Father and I are one."
So, when I started life as a midshipmen in the Navy, I had lots to look forward to. I enjoyed the classes, the sailing, the weapons training, studying the heritage that was given us by heroes . . . yes, it was an honor to step into these shoes. But there was one thing that I had yet to learn in my time at the Academy . . . one little thing which I somehow forgot to learn beforehand – I had to catch up on one small, hardly noticeable item . . . you see, I had joined the Sea Services without knowing how to . . . swim! And so, when the day of the swim test came our first year, I empathized with all the rocks that are thrown in lakes everywhere. I needed to learn how to swim. And for some reason, the shouting and hollering of the phys ed teachers was not very encouraging, as I slugged my way through the water in the Academy swimming pool.
But one doesn’t get through Annapolis on his own – I had some good friends, classmates, who took me on early morning trips to the pool, showed me day after day how to turn my arms in circles and glide through the water, how to visualize with all my mind, “I am a fish.” “I am a fish.” When the time for the test re-take occurred, I had learned a lot, but it was still a struggle – but I had one valuable asset that I didn’t have before - I had those friends who had been with me along the way, cheering me on during the test, and I could hear them when I turned at the wall each time. Even though the test was still tough, I had gotten to know their voices, and that made a big difference, as I heard them shout out “you’ve only got two laps to go . . . one lap to go . . . you’re almost there!” It made a big difference to hear them, as I was reminded that day, in the journey of serving in the fleet, I wasn’t doing it alone.
Today’s Easter Mass reminds us that we are definitely not alone in our journey of following the Lord. Is it a journey with a glorious end? Definitely. Does this journey have struggles and challenges along the way? Assuredly. St. Paul knew it. St. Barnabas knew it. Every Christian martyr through history has known it. But they were never ever alone. For they had a voice to listen to, the voice of the Good Shepherd guiding them. It’s a voice that still speaks, still invites His brothers and sisters to follow Him in every circumstance of life. And so, even when we’re presented with challenging moments, we’re not afraid, we won’t give up, for we hear him cheering us on, continuously reminding us, “I am with you always!”
But today’s a good reminder for us - the journey in being a follower of Jesus Christ IS possible . . . but can we hear his voice? The path to become a saint IS laid out for us . . . but can we hear the invitation to walk that path? The Lord whose Spirit lives in us has amazing things to speak to us . . . but do our hearts have the ability to listen? We hear what He has to say in the Scriptures, in the Sacraments, even in each other, but we hear the voices of many other competing things as well. Peoples, friends, enemies, even the voices of our own minds can seem to distract us from listening to Him. I might be tempted to say, “Lord, You say we can hear Your voice - HOW?! I’ve got this and that going on, I have deadlines to meet, I’ve still got bills to pay, family to take care of, concerns to address . . . these laps in the pool seem to take forever . . . but how beautiful it was that, in the midst of my quandary with the pool, I was able to find friends who were there for me in one of my toughest moments as a plebe at the academy.
How beautiful it was that, in the midst of jealous Jews, Paul and Barnabas were motivated to spread the Word of God to the Gentiles, NON-Jews . . . and so here we are today! How beautiful it was that Jesus Himself was able to take the hatred and rejection of so many people, and turn it into the most beautiful message the world has ever known. God speaks to us, in the Sacraments, in His Holy Word, in each other, He speaks His voice of love to us, IN OR EVEN THROUGH THE MOST MUNDANE OR DIFFICULT OR UNCERTAIN OR FRUSTRATING moments of our lives. All we have to do is make the effort to listen, we LEARN how to listen, we DEDICATE OURSELES to listening, not to the one who will save us from a swim test, but to the One who will save us from being alone, the One who will save us for a life of dwelling comfortably in the hands of Our Heavenly Father.