Acts 11:1-18; Ps 42:2,3; 43:3,4; Jn 10:1-10
If not now, when? “When shall I go and behold the face of God?” We have such a great hunger. We have such an unquenchable thirst. We long; we yearn; we desire with such urgency. But, what is it for which we hunger and thirst? It is nothing less than God, the living God. It is as much a part of our nature as the thirst of the hind for running waters. We were made by God and for God, and until we find Him or He finds us we are restless, empty, and lost. So we plead with today’s psalm: “Send forth your light and your fidelity; they shall lead me on.” These two glorious angels will lead us on to the holy mountain, to the very dwelling place of God, the living God. Then and only then will we know gladness and joy as we stand at the altar of God, as we share in the heavenly banquet. Then we will give eternal thanks upon the harp. Then we will sing with gladness and joy. Two men appeared at Saint Peter’s door to bring him into a whole new awareness of God’s universal salvific will; indeed he is led to proclaim with great joy, “God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.” The Lord Jesus proclaims the good news that he has come so that we may have life, abundant life. Indeed, the Good Shepherd wants all his sheep gathered into his fold. He wants to fulfill the desire of every human heart to behold the face of God.
One can hardly find a more universal sign human unity than sharing a meal. We nourish our bodies and our souls when we share at a common table. So for the Apostles and brothers in Judea it was a great offense that Saint Peter would enter the houses of uncircumcised people and eat with them. How could this be? How can there be any unity among the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians? This painful question is not that familiar to us at this time in history. However, every generation of believers has some issue of disunity confronting the church. In our day the arrival of many immigrant peoples who share our faith at the Table of the Lord, can be a great cause of concern as a parish beholds the change of complexion upon the face of the congregation. We, too, must discover in prayer what our beloved Saint Peter discovered, “What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.” Indeed, it will take some deep listening to the LORD in prayer for our hearts to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the voice of the Lord Jesus is loud and clear, even painful to hear. At such moments of revelation our common sense ways are broken open and we begin to see as God sees; we will have an entirely new vision. Then and only then will we not hinder God. Then and only then will God’s dream for us become our own dream.
Saint John of the Cross teaches, “Oh LORD, my God, who will seek you with simple and pure love, and not find that you are all one can desire, for you show yourself first and go out to meet those who seek you.” Indeed, this universal doctor of the church provides an answer to the question of today’s responsorial psalm and the question of every human heart. We hear the voice of the Good Shepherd summoning us to follow him. We recognize his voice. We have heard him say, “You are my beloved, upon you my favor rests!” Any stranger’s voice we run away from, but the voice of the Lord attracts the ear of the heart, and we cannot not follow. No thief, no robber has that authentic tone of voice that captures our hearts. Indeed, the Good Shepherd is also the gate through whom we enter and go out to find pasture, along the streams of living waters. Every thief comes only to steal, slaughter, and destroy. The Good Shepherd came that we might have life and have it abundantly. This abundant life is life in the Holy Spirit. Indeed, our very breath and every word we speak is empowered by the Spirit of the Living God. Not only do we hear the Divine Voice summoning us to abundant life, we become that very voice. We who become what we eat in the Eucharist; we become what we breath in our prayer—the very voice of the Lord speaking to the LORD. This is the destiny of every believer. This is our dignity in Christ. This is the abundant life of the transforming union: through him, with him, and in him in the unity of the Holy Spirit and for the glory of the Father.