Date:            April 29, 2007                Fourth Sunday of Easter
Readings:    ACTS 13: 14, 43-52*     Psalm 100: 1-3,5*
                     Revelation 7: 9,14-17    John 10: 27-30
Paul had persecuted the Church. He was ready to snuff out all vestiges of the "WAY" wherever he was sent until Jesus confronted him on the way to Damascus.
Barnabus was a true spirit, chosen by God to do His work. He not only gave up his worldly possessions; he distributed their value among the poor. He and Paul were thoroughly steeped in the Apostolic teachings and wasted no time going out to convert any and all to this new Judaism, one not depending on laws but on Love.
Of course, they had to overcome opposition and even violence but they maintained their place and continued to teach as they were instructed. Sure, it was tough, but when the Spirit enters our lives, we cannot but do His will even at the cost of our lives.
Artistic tradition has Paul falling from a horse! The tradition almost has become the text most people believe is a direct quote from the text. Re-reading the text shows no reference to a horse, or, for that matter, any animal.
The 14th Century artist who depicted Paul falling from a horse used the symbols known in his day in the familiar portrait. Proud people rode on horses. Paul was cast from his "high-horse" by a blazing light. The blindness ensuing was not physical but moral and theological. We sometimes are in Paul's position. We've been encouraged to disdain other Christian Traditions as somewhat dubious, if not downright false. We "know" our Faith is the only complete Faith. However, if our actions are contrary to our averred belief, we are not only liars, but hypocrites as well.
The lesson here is, "don't besmirch other's beliefs under any circumstance." However, when your own faith is known and demonstrated properly, you will be able to explain your Faith with confidence the Holy Spirit will enlighten you at the proper time.
The psalmist writes one of the shortest psalms found in the Psalter. The response reminds us God is our Good Shepherd; interested in our welfare and us.
The persecution by Domitian was one of the most severe in the realm of Roman Emperors. He was an administrative genius and was the first to set up an orderly succession by splitting the empire into four locations, each with its own Caesar. In the past, when a ruler died, there would be a scurry of pretenders who would stop at nothing to claim succession. Thereafter, coups and outright assassination was the usual avenue used to usurp authority. When Domitian retired, he went home to Yugoslavia to raise beets and turnips. He was supposed to have said, "Turnips have more sense than people."
It was during Domitian's reign Christian persecution was most prevalent. The writer of Revelation used the Apocalyptic style of literature to warn his followers of the impending trauma and to encourage them to remain faithful.
The image of the heavenly dwellers in white robes made white in the blood of the Lamb conjures up irrational thought. "How can a white robe be made white by washing it in Blood." The theme explains the sinful man's demeanor, filthy with sin, is redeemed by the blood of Christ. His same sacrifice is re-presented on the Altars all over the world in an unbloody manner, recalling the forgiveness and salvation offered to the Father 'til He comes again in glory.
John's Gospel is a reiteration of the Good Shepherd theme. Jesus hears our calling to Him, like lost sheep looking for their master and salvation from the perils of the world. Christ continues to tend us, His sheep and will continue until we are safely there with Him for all eternity. We are assured the Father will always hear our petitions and move to take the necessary action to improve our lot.
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