“Please come to us without delay.” Acts 9:38
You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God. John 6:69
Let us pray: Jesus, in our hours of doubt, when we are challenged by your teachings and tempted to walk away, send your messenger to come to us without delay. Guide us back to the right path, to your path, so we may follow you always, putting our beliefs into action, because you have the words of everlasting life. Amen.
Jesus never stops challenging us. Some of His teachings are difficult to understand. Maybe some of these have “turned people off.” Do you know someone who has stopped attending Church? Maybe they stopped walking with Jesus because it was hard to hear, too hard to believe, or too hard to live out His commands with loving actions.
It is not always someone else who walks away. Sometimes it is us. What are some of the hard teachings for you? For me, living like Christ non-violently is one of the hard teachings. In our world, we want to defend ourselves from attacks. Our society sees the sacrifice of men and women in service to the country as noble. When faced with these situations, we conveniently forget WWJD and instead do as we would like.
But Jesus was the Suffering Servant. He died “loving his enemies.” As Bishop Thomas Gumbelton wrote in the National Catholic Reporter, “[Jesus] was harshly treated, but unresisting and silent. He humbly submitted like a lamb lead to the slaughter or sheep before the shearer. He did not open his mouth.
“He did not, in other words, respond with hatred or vengeance. He did not want violence to be done to those who were even executing him. Instead he loved them. This is a tremendous example of how Jesus expects us to live. That model of Jesus as the one who not only said to love your enemies but actually did it,” continued Bishop Gumbelton.
Jesus recognized that today’s Gospel reading was challenging and hard to accept. “Does it shock you?” Maybe we need to be shocked by teachings we don’t understand and find hard in order to wake up from our too-comfortable lives and confront the challenge that Jesus presents to us in his life, his teaching and his mission for us.
Over the Easter season, we renewed our Baptismal promises in the Vigil Mass as new Catholics were initiated. In today’s readings, Peter renews his promises to the Lord. The faith that we proclaimed must be put into action. Jesus suffered for us, sheep who had wandered away in our own directions. Now it is our turn to be challenged and to bring people in touch with God. There may be a time or a teaching where we will have to set aside our personal views and be lead by others. There may be a time when, like Peter, we will go where we do not want to go.
But Jesus said “Follow me.” Not our way, but his way. When we are truly one with his lessons, we will react like Peter to the challenge. “Where else would we go?” This is our faith and we profess it in Christ our Lord who has the words of everlasting life. Now we must put those beliefs and values into action.
What is the anniversary of your baptism?* Look it up and celebrate it each year like you would celebrate your birthday.
How do you best celebrate your baptism? Maybe by making a truly sacrificial gift of your time, talents or treasure to those people most in need of your assistance.
*Answer for me: March 9, 1958, Our Lady of Pity Church,