Easter 4th Week, Monday, May 4th

Acts 11:1-18 / John 10:1-10 
Jesus talks about life: “I came to give you life in all its fullness.

A 50-year-old man with a terminal illness wrote to a friend: “I suddenly asked myself, ‘What am I doing? Why am I working at something I don’t enjoy? Why am I building a bank account that will do me no good when I am dead?’” Then the man told his friend that he was going to change his approach to life and live the way his heart dictated he should. That man lived 18 more months. Before he died, he told someone that the final 18 months of his life were “the best, the fullest, and the richest” of his entire life. Jesus came to teach us “the best, the fullest, and the richest” way to live.

How full and rich is our present life? How might it become richer and fuller? “Our life is scarce the twinkle of a star in God’s eternal day.” Bayard Taylor
The saying that "one man's meat is another man's poison" may not have the literal meaning of poison. Rather it means that things liked or enjoyed by one person may be distasteful to another. The general meaning points to food but it may also have a broader application.

The vision that Peter had in the 1st reading was about a sheet that contained all sorts of animals and wild beasts.
And then the command "kill and eat" obviously meant that the meat of these animals is meant as food. Though Peter initially objected because he thought of the meats of some animals as "profane and unclean", the voice in the vision stated "What God has made clean, you have no right to call profane". But the vision is not just about food and about what is "profane and unclean".

It has a further meaning that applies to people, and for Peter, just as he thought of some meats as profane and unclean, he thought of the pagans as profane and unclean.

We may not think of pagans as "profane and unclean". But in our minds, there are some people, regardless of whether they are pagans or otherwise, that we think are "profane and unclean" in that they irritate us to the marrow of our bones and we think of them as toxic and poisonous.
Through the vision of Peter, God is also telling us that these people are also created by Him, and we have no right to call them profane and unclean, or toxic and poisonous.

Let us ask the Lord to cleanse us of these profane and unclean, toxic and poisonous thoughts of our hearts, so that we are able to see these people with the eyes of God and to slowly come to understand them with a heart of love.
Monday of 4th Week of Easter - LITURGY


“I have come that they may have life – life in abundance,” says Jesus, the Good Shepherd. He is the door to all. In the first reading, Peter defends his action of baptizing the pagan Cornelius on the same grounds: also pagans are called to accept the Gospel and the Holy Spirit comes down on them too, although apparently, the same Christians seem to have understood the case of Cornelius and his household as an exceptional instance. Is the Church – are we – open to accept all? What do we do to make this a reality? Remember, Jesus had come to bring life to all. 

Penitential Rite
-You, Lord, our Good Shepherd, open the gates and call each of us by name, when we don’t answer, LHM
-You, Lord, our Good Shepherd, walk ahead of us for us to follow, yet we are hesitant to follow you, LHM
-Your voice, Lord, our Good Shepherd, is not what we often recognize and follow the strangers, CHM

Opening Prayer 
Lord our God, Father of all, you sent your Son, Jesus Christ among us to reveal to us that you care about people and that your love extends to all, without any distinction of race or culture. Give us a great respect for all people, whatever way they come, and let your Church embrace all cultures, that Jesus may truly be the Lord and Shepherd of all, now and forever.

In the tenth chapter of John’s Gospel, read in part on Good Shepherd Sunday, two distinct images appear. One depicts Christ as the Good Shepherd; the second speaks of him as the sheep gate. It is the latter that appears in today’s Gospel. To enter the sheepfold through Christ is the sole recognized way of access; to enter through others ways is the route of deceivers and robbers. The authentic leaders of the faithful remain faithful to the voice of Christ. The image certainly underscores the importance of orthodoxy and authenticity of teaching. But it also points to a willingness to accept change. The first major issue that early Christianity had to face was the decision to accept Gentile converts, a question that arises in today’s reading from Acts of the Apostles. One of the major obstacles to religious homogeneity centered on the question of the Jewish food laws. A considerable part of the Jewish legal code distinguished between clean and unclean foods. Therefore, table fellowship with unbelievers was excluded. In today’s reading, at the direction of the Lord himself, all foods were declared clean. The full acceptance of the Gentiles is authenticated with the giving of the Holy Spirit, in a scene often referred to as the Gentile Pentecost. It was moments such as this that made Christianity a universal religion. Otherwise it would have withered on the vine or remained a sect, albeit a fringe one, of Judaism. Both in early Christianity as well as in later centuries, there were moments of great change. Change is an integral part of growth and development. It should not cause us dismay. As long as we enter through die sheep gate, we need have no fear. 

Points to Ponder 
Christ: Shepherd and sheep gate.
Jew and Gentle, co-equal in the church
Adjusting to change 

– Lord Jesus, let our Church keep its gates wide-open for all, from however far come those who are attracted by your voice, we pray:
– Lord Jesus, make our communities open its bolted doors to strangers and to people who are different, we pray:
– Lord Jesus, do not allow us to close our ears and hearts to people who cry out to us their pains and their needs, we pray: 

Prayer over the Gifts 
Lord, our God, in these signs of bread and wine, we recognize your care for all and we welcome your Son, Jesus Christ. Give us, the Holy Spirit of your Son, that our love may become as wide as the world, and that all people may share in the life and joy you offer to all through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

Prayer after Communion 
Lord God, source of all life, we thank you for the presence of your Son, Jesus Christ, in our midst. Do not allow us to withhold his Word and his person from all who hunger for him, whether they know it or not. Let us be his word and his body to the world of today, that our words and deeds may echo his voice and that we may be the door to you, our God, for ever and ever. 

Let Jesus not be a stranger to us but someone whose voice we recognize when he calls out to us in the needy, in loners, in people who have not experienced much justice and love. May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.