Fourth Sunday of Easter

There are two points that I would like to reflect on from today’s Gospel: the first point is about God, the second point is about you and me.  Let’s start with the point about God: Jesus says that He and the Father are One.  This is Our Lord’s most clear and direct statement that He, Himself is God.  The line that follows in Saint John’s Gospel, says that the Jews who heard Jesus say this took up stones with which to kill Him.  They understood what He was saying and they wanted to stone Him to death for it.  Jesus made a clear claim to be God.  If it were not true, that claim would be blasphemy, and according to Jewish law blasphemy was punishable by death.  We know that Jesus Christ IS God.  He claimed to be God and He proved that claim by the many signs and miracles that He performed.

We profess this Truth every Sunday in the Creed.  Every week we reaffirm our belief that Jesus Christ is the Eternal Son of God: “God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, one in being with the Father.”  Jesus and the Father are one and yet they are not the same Person.  The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father and yet the Father and the Son are both one God: totally and perfectly one.  The same is true of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit is not the Father or the Son, but nonetheless He is really and true one God with the Father and with the Son.  This reality can be difficult to grasp; it is a mystery that we will contemplate for all eternity.  God has revealed Himself to us as a Trinity, and we accept His revelation in humility, realizing that we will contemplate God for all eternity and never fully comprehend Him because He is Infinite, and we are limited creatures.

God has revealed Himself as Three Persons in one God because He wants us to know Him as He is.  Knowing that God is a Trinity also reveals something to us about ourselves because we are made in God’s image and likeness.  The Truth that God is Three Persons in one God reveals to us that God is love.  If God were only one person, He could not be love; He could only be a lover: because love is a relationship between persons.  There has to be more than one person in order for there to be love.  If God were only one Person, He could only love Himself: He could only have selfish love.  But we know that God existed from all eternity as Three Persons: from all eternity the Trinity exists as a community of love.  From all eternity the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father.  From all eternity the Holy Spirit proceeds from them both as the love of the Father and the Son for each other.  The Truth that “God is love” depends on the Truth that “God is a Trinity.”

Because our God exists as a community of love, and we are made in His image and likeness, we know that love is the highest meaning of life.  Through Jesus Christ, these eternal realities connect with our lives.  This leads us to the second point that we take from today’s Gospel: Jesus says that His sheep hear His voice and follow Him.  Jesus is not just referring to the Apostles and the disciples who saw Him and ate with Him.  He is referring to all of us.  We are His sheep and He we are still called to listen to His voice and follow Him.  How do we hear His voice?

We hear the voice of the Lord in several ways.  The Scriptures are the inspired Word of God.  Through Scripture, God speaks to us.  Father John often says that Scripture is God’s love letter to each one of us.  That is why it is important for us to study and pray with Scripture, so that we can come to understand what God is trying to say to us through it.

We also hear God’s voice in prayer.  Not that we hear a physical voice.  But God speaks to us in the silence of our hearts.  If we spend time in prayer and quiet ourselves before Him, He will speak to us.  Prayer is meant to be a conversation with God and conversations have two elements: we have to talk and we have to listen.

God also speaks to us through our conscience.  The Catechism calls the conscience that most secret core of every person.  Our conscience is a sanctuary where God’s voice echoes in our depths.  (cf. CCC 1776)  Our conscience prompts us to do good and avoid evil.  Through the conscience, God calls us to repent from sins that we have committed and bring them to confession.

Finally, we hear God’s voice through the Church.  The Holy Spirit guides the Church into all Truth.  Jesus entrusted the Sacraments to the Church and through them He continues to be present to us.   Through our Baptism, we became sons and daughters of God.  At our Baptism, our bodies became Temples of the Holy Spirit.  In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus shares His life and His divine grace with you.  In the Sacrament of Confession, the Lord restores our souls to life when we have fallen into sin.  Through the Sacraments, we encounter the Lord in a most profound way.  The Sacraments give us the strength that we need to follow Christ more faithfully.  Let us be attentive to the various ways that Our Lord is trying to speak to us and let us make use of all the many ways that the Lord offers us His grace and strength to follow Him.  Lord Jesus, help us to hear Your voice and to follow You.  Amen.

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