If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Friday, 10 May 2019

4th Sunday of Easter Year C 2019

    4th Sunday of Eastertide (C)
                                      (Acts 13:14, 43-52; Rev. 7:9, 14-17; John 10:27-30)

After Jesus had risen from the dead and poured out His Most Holy Spirit upon His disciples, there were men and women to be found -- even here on earth -- already participating in the eternal life of heaven; and our readings today celebrate that gift of eternal life which even now begins to take hold of, and shape the lives of Jesus' true disciples.  From the book of Revelation we heard:

I John had a vision of a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.  They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches.

That puzzled John the seer, and he was told:

These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 

That was in accordance with Jesus' own words to Nicodemus:

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)

Multiform cleansing is one of the main purposes to which we dedicate our use of water.  Those, however, who come out of the great tribulation of which the seer speaks, have washed their robes with the only cleansing agent able to wash away the stains of human sin, that is, the Blood of the Lamb; for it is that Precious Blood, poured out for us, which alone gives the power for supernatural cleansing to the baptismal waters of the Church.  As Jesus said:

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

People of God: it is a fact of Catholic spiritual awareness that the sacraments of Mother Church are to be regarded as the fruit of the outpouring of Jesus' Blood, and that such a precious outpouring should never be rendered vain by thoughtless irreverence, let alone by downright disdain.  Today, however, far too many parents, with only tenuous catholic connections, think they will have their child baptized merely to satisfy their own parents, or, perhaps, to gratify their own pseudo-conscience ("I would like to have my kids done … then I will feel I have done my best for them"), without having any real intention of bringing up their child in the ways of Jesus according to Mother Church's teaching.  They understand baptism only as ceremonial, where mere water is poured over the child's head, whilst a few words are said, and then all is over and done with.  They have little or no reverence for the sacrament; no awareness that the water poured out is holy water; water empowered by the shedding of Jesus' blood, water which -- as the seer tells us -- enables those dedicated to Jesus to: 

Wash their (souls) and make them spotless in the blood of the Lamb. 

Such water, and indeed the grace of all the other sacraments, can only be used, poured out, or received, in Spirit and in Truth; that is, in a sincere love of and reverence for Christ in His Church, showing itself as a desire both to obey His teaching and to follow the guidance of His Spirit.

But let us leave the behaviour of doubtful Catholics behind this Eastertide; let us now look forward and upward that we may hopefully come to better appreciate and fulfil our calling as disciples of the risen Christ; let us try to learn more about this new life He has won for us and so become more adept at living it by delighting in God and serving our neighbour.

They stand before God’s throne and worship Him day and night in His temple.  The One Who sits on the throne will shelter them.

The Lamb Who is in the centre of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water.   And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. 

Those before the throne of God serve Him day and night in His Temple; that is, they delight in Him, praise, worship, and glorify Him with whole-hearted commitment and joy.

To understand something of this, just think, my dear people, of a spontaneous "Oh!" and outburst of clapping or, something far more astounding, an almost imperceptible, common, intake of breath followed by a deep silence of hovering life, which can take place when some gathering of people is astonished by the sheer beauty, majesty, power, wisdom or skill, of someone or something heard or seen.  Now those who are before the throne of God catch glimpses of His infinite beauty, wisdom, and holiness; His awesome majesty and power; His unimaginable goodness and humility: they see God.  And because God is infinite, just as when travelling by car through some country or woodland guided only by the stars above and the full beam of your car's headlamps, you catch ever- fresh glimpses of beautiful trees, flowers, streams, cottages, lit up by your  headlights and all following one another in continuous flow as you go on your journey through the night, so it is for those before the throne of God: those thus blessed can never weary of praising and delighting in Him, because He is endlessly new and totally beautiful, admirable, and good; He fills to overflowing each and every human desire and capacity for joy and fulfilment.

He Who sits on the throne, we are told, will spread His tent over the blessed; they will never have anything to fear for their treasure and well-being is secure, nor can their love ever be dimmed or threatened; eternal peace and security overarch -- so to speak -- and protect the fullness of their sublime blessings.

The Lamb at the centre of the throne will be Shepherd of those He has brought into the Father’s presence and He will lead them to springs of living water: yes, Jesus, Our Lord, will be there -- with us and for us -- as Our Shepherd, our Leader, our Glory; and He will lead us along the heavenly paths of eternal life, so that, with Him, all that is truly human in us, far from being smothered or denied, will be glorified as He, our Lord and our Brother, is most fully and beautifully glorified in His sacred humanity.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Who can fittingly speak of the intimacy and tenderness of God the Father's relationship with each and every one of His children redeemed by the blood of His Only Begotten and most Beloved Son?  All lingering hurts and humiliations, all accumulated anxieties and fears, will be gently wiped away by the all-knowing, fully-understanding, and ever-watchful, love of our Father in heaven.

That is some slight idea, and I hope, some glad anticipation, of the life of heaven.  Now, that life -- Mother Church teaches -- begins here on earth for Jesus' true disciples, but its heavenly fulfilment can only be attained by those who have passed through tribulations of varying degrees chosen by God in His Fatherly goodness to cement their union with Jesus in sincerity, depth, and trust.

These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

What are these tribulations?  Let us recall our second reading:

On the following Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.  When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said. 

Today, many who are turned from God and seeking worldly power and fulfilment, behave like the jealous Jews of Paul's time: they reject the Gospel themselves and seek to prevent others hearing and obeying it.  The young are – by social and peer pressures -- challenged to try out, indulge in, sex and drugs, urged to be seen to have and to enjoy as much of the world as everyone one else.  Others have friends or acquaintances who, not trusting God themselves, constantly incite them to worry about the past, present, and what might imaginably happen in the future, especially with concerns about money, health, or others’ opinion of them.  For young Christians these are modern equivalents to the persecutions endured by Paul and the early Church; less violent trials indeed, but more insidious temptations awaiting those still immature in the love and discipline of the Lord.

The Gentiles were delighted, and glorified the word of the Lord (proclaimed to them).   All who were destined for eternal life came to believe.

There are many Catholics who had once been gladdened to hear the word of God and experience the grace of God in their lives before such trials and temptations sullied the purity, peace, and joy, of their faith:

The Jews incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory.

Many, when friends and family oppose them – like those devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city – allow themselves to fall by the wayside.  They may not always fall away from Church, but certainly, joy in Jesus no longer fills their heart; and like their longing, so too their searching, for Him dries up; they settle for life on earth and no longer think of, or aspire to, that heavenly life which, after its beginning in baptism, should develop through a life of discipleship and reception of the sacraments, into its full flowering in heaven.

My sheep hear My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.  I give them eternal life, they shall never perish; no one can take them out of My hand. 

Dear People of God, you have been called into Jesus' flock; listen, then, to His voice, trust Him and follow Him alone.  Do not yield to siren voices whose worldly attitudes and aspirations only serve to stir up tensions and antagonisms, worries and anxieties, in your hearts and lives.  In Jesus alone are true joy and peace, true fulfilment and strength, to be found.  Keep close to Him and you will never perish, for none can snatch you from Jesus' hand, from His sure and loving care; follow closely in His traces and He will lead you to eternal life, for such was the commission given Him by His Father, and to do His Father’s will most perfectly He lived, died, and rose again.