1 Jn 3:11-21; Ps 100:1b-5; Jn 1:43-51 : The LORD continues to tend his flock. We are his people, and we are his flock. Saint John Neumann was faithful to the Good Shepherd and spend his life in organizing the Catholic School system in the United States. As a faithful bishop he taught by example and in preaching. Toward the end of his life he wrote a letter to the Holy See that expressed his profound loyalty and practical humility. He wanted the church authorities to know that he was quite willing to serve in whatever way necessary for the good of his flock, and if they wanted him to retire that too was a way to serve faithfully. This kind of shepherd, both teacher and saint, was in the ancient tradition of theologian-saints of the early church. Great is the thanksgiving and praise among the flock for such beautiful leaders who reveal by their teaching and lifestyle that the LORD is good and His kindness endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Indeed Saint John Neumann lived the teaching found in today’s passage from the First Letter of Saint John, “Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” With such leaders the church will grow and reveal even greater things to future generations of those who heed the call of Christ, “Come follow me.”
Why are we who follow the Lord Jesus still amazed that the world hates us? It is not to be expected? Anyone who forgives seventy times seven times is bound to be ridiculed for being weak and lacking common sense. Anyone who loves his enemies and prays for those who persecute him will be judged by the world as foolish. Anyone who loves God first and his neighbor as himself will be considered quite dangerous. Indeed, the only way we know that we love God is by the active and practical way we love our brothers and sisters, all men and women because we are all children of the one Father, Abba. Perhaps it should amaze us that such a radical witness has not resulted in the conversion of the world. Is the fact that there is still hatred, murder, greed, lust, pride, and sloth in our world the result of the LORD being weary with us? Is it not, rather that we are weary with the LORD? Let our hearts not be quick to condemn, ourselves or others! The God of Love who knows our weakness and failure loves us unconditionally. He cannot love us more than he does. He will not love us less than he does. He loves us without hesitation and without regret. If we are so loved by God, how can we not love ourselves and others?
The Lord Jesus does not limit his summoning disciples to those who live in Judea. He goes to Galilee, where live the less than pure Israelites. Even Nathanael reveals this judgment on Galilee when he reacts to the mention of one of its towns, “Can any good come from Nazareth?” Notice Saint Philip’s response, “Come and see.” Already the disciples are using the Master’s own words. This imitation of the Lord Jesus flows out of a certain confidence in their relationships with each other and with Christ. Indeed, these first disciples would become his apostles. It is in this time of gathering, of harvesting, from the people of Israel and Galilee that the Lord Jesus discovers the faith of those who have waited for his coming for so many generations. Such faith is praised and rewarded when the Lord promises Nathanael, “You will see greater things than this.” The same promise is made to us. If we exercise in prayer the mustard seed of faith that we already have, we will see what the first followers saw, “the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Indeed, we will grow from glory to glory! Such is the promise of our future. This glorious vision has begun to be fulfilled even here and now in our sharing in the Kingdom of God present at this Eucharist.