I have come that they may have life
By REV. FR. SAMUEL FREDERICK
Acts 11:1-18, Jn 10:1-10. The events that led to great transformation in Peter after Pentecost should give us the greatest hope for the possibility of change in our life. From such an impulsive, self-centred man who dared to persuade Christ away from His way of the Cross (Cf. Mt. 16:22), became totally transparent to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In today's first reading, Peter sets aside his prejudices and hesitations to obey God, with a disarming argument. When the Holy Spirit came down upon Cornelius and his pagan household, Peter realised that God was doing something in the lives of these pagans, that nobody should try to block what God was doing: “Who am I to resist God?” What courageous leadership Peter showed, pointing the way forward for the Church of future centuries. When challenged by other members of the Church for his daring initiative, Peter patiently explained why it was necessary and right. His leadership is not dictatorial but a blend of inspiration and dialogue. On the question of how Gentiles could belong to the Church, Peter had decisively opened the door.
This process of openness and encouragement, where questions are worked out in dialogue, was anticipated by Jesus in the parable of the Good Shepherd in today's Gospel. The Shepherd knows each sheep by name, calls each one by a sound which reaches into the depths of the individual. Each life-changing decision, whether for the group or for the individual, must be in continuity with our past but also in union the one who promises a deeper life, the Good Shepherd who calls us by our name. To say that Jesus is the gate of the sheepfold, is to say that Jesus is the gateway through whom God comes to us and we go to God. Jesus is the open gate into the Kingdom of God. People can go freely in and out through Him and experience God through Him.
In a wonderful phrase Jesus says: "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." There is a sense in which we all share in that role of Jesus to be promoters and enablers of life for others. We are to be channels of grace, like Peter, just as the Spirit of God entered the lives of Cornelius and his household through Peter’s message. We have a role to play in each other’s lives but we also have to leave room for God to work. There is a time to be the shepherd and a time to be the gate.
May the Lord rule over our hearts, sanctify and guide our every thought, word and deed according to His will! Amen!! Good morning, have a productive week!!!