Reflection on the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Easter (Luke 24):
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way . . . (Luke 24:32).” This is one of my favorite Gospel passages, and it always reminds me to consider how many times as I was “on the way” through life, that my heart was “burning” within because He was there. But I was too busy fretting over the ever present kitchen chores like the frenzied Martha to stop long enough to listen to what He had to say.
The second point in this Gospel that gives me pause is the phrase, “It is nearly evening, and the day is almost over.” The older one gets, the more you realize that, indeed, one is in the “evening” of life and the God-given gift of time is slowly ebbing toward Eternity. Time to slow down, settle down, and sit with the Master more and more away from the glitz of life and the never-ending frenzy of the younger generation.
It’s time to let our eyes be opened, as never before, and recognize him not only in the “breaking of the bread” but in the burning of our hearts where Father, Son, and Spirit have been at home since the waters of Baptism washed over us. They are waiting to stay with us and show us from the inside outward that, indeed, He is risen and burning from within — “ . . . the Evening Star that never sets.”
The Magi were not the only ones called to follow a star. At the Easter Vigil, we too, were called to follow that Evening Star . . . who is, of course, Jesus!
Reflection of the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (John 10:1-10):
One of St. Francis’s favorite images was that of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Francis knew that to follow in the footsteps of Jesus was to “pass through the narrow gate”. Living the Gospel as literally as he did is not for the fainthearted. As Franciscans we promise “to live the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,” but anyone who has taken those words seriously knows it means following Jesus even to the Cross. Regardless of the rockiness of the pathway, following in the sure footsteps of Jesus makes it possible.
In this month’s National Geographic Magazine (May 2020), there is a fascinating article about the groups of shepherds in Italy still monitoring their flocks in the same region as their ancestors several thousand years ago. The pathways are worn, the travel from winter pastures to the cooler summer summits of Italy are grueling, yet being a shepherd is rooted deeply in their familial traditions. Even their canine companions know their responsibilities and protect the flocks from anything even faintly threatening to their charges. Having read this article earlier this week, it certainly gave me a different view of the image Jesus used regarding the care of a shepherd and the loyalty of his/her sheep. Jesus in the Gospel tells us, “ . . . the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.”
In our contemporary world, we are bombarded from morning until night by conflicting voices all vying for our attention, our money, our loyalty, our commitment. Today’s Gospel on this “Good Shepherd Sunday” reminds us that sheep recognize and know only one voice, that of their master. They follow only that one voice. Perhaps a question we might reflect on today is: whose voice do I follow? The media? Sports figures? Hollywood idols? The popular guru of the moment?
Or the voice of the Good Shepherd who says “Come, follow me”?
The present pandemic certainly provides us with some quality time to consider:
(1) Whose voice do I follow?
(2) Do I need to “retune” my ears to hear the voice of Jesus more clearly?
(3) What mid-course corrections would make my following of the Good Shepherd lead to a deeper relationship with Him?