Fidelity in the Holy Name of Jesus: To This We Are Witnesses

Life_Giving Faith.pdf

Happy Easter! As the joyful journey of this glorious season continues, the daily and Sunday Mass readings share accounts of Jesus’ appearances after the resurrection. Also given are inspiring testimonies of the disciples in the name of Jesus, as well as the power in them to continue the ministry of the Lord.

Fulfillment

The Liturgy of the Word begins with readings from the Acts of the Apostles. The testimony and actions of the early church, particularly those of the apostles, signify a deep faith and transforming power of the Holy Spirit. St. Peter explains the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation as foretold through Moses (the Law), the prophets (the coming of the Messiah) and the Psalms has come through the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the one the crowd had rejected. Despite this, Jesus, the cornerstone, forgave them from the cross offering the promise of new life as a child of God through the repentance of sin and baptism into his life. So we ask, “When have I rejected Jesus? What do I need to repent of and turn back to God? As I renew my baptismal promises, am I truly rejecting the empty promises of Satan in order to be refreshed in the waters of life through the sprinkling rite? Am I open to the power given by the Holy Spirit, similarly given to the apostles, in order to fulfill my calling by sharing the good news in the name of Jesus?

We are witnesses

The Gospel reading on the Third Sunday of Easter is a continuation of the road to Emmaus account. It picks up as the disciples who recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread have run back to the upper room to witness what they had just experienced. Upon this testimony, Jesus “stood” among them saying, “Peace be with you” (Lk 24:36). What was their reaction? They were “startled and frightened.”

Take a moment to consider how you would react. Jesus knows what they are thinking. He reassures them he is the risen Lord, showing his wounds of the crucifixion and then eating. This scene is just mind-blowing!

Jesus reiterated how he fulfilled all that was promised, increased their understanding of the Scriptures and said, “You are witnesses of these things” (Lk 24:48). Same is true for us, today, now in this moment. So we ask, “How can I witness the joy of the resurrection? Am I focused on the works of mercy during the Easter season? When can I set aside time to meditate with the Bible in order to know God? When have I recognized God’s action in my life and how am I able to share this story with others?”

Good Shepherd

“I am the Good Shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11). St. John Paul II stated in a homily, “How can we fail to see in these words an implicit reference to the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection? Christ freely offered himself on the cross and rose by virtue of his own divine power. Christ is the Good Shepherd who, by dying on the cross, lays down his life for his sheep. Thus a profound communion is established between the Good Shepherd and his flock.”

A picture of Jesus carrying a lamb as he tends a flock sits in my office. It serves as a constant reminder of the presence of Jesus. There are days when “life happens” and restlessness enters invoking suffering, sadness and, perhaps, despair. Yet, Jesus’ staff gently guides the faithful to “restful waters” of baptismal graces flowing within. He leads us to the green pastures, if we
allow him to do so. He seeks us in the darkest of nights, leaving all behind to find the one. This is how important the faithful are to God: collectively and personally.

We are the flock who hear the voice of the good shepherd calling us back to his loving care. Jesus became a lamb, identifying with the needs of the flock then ultimately he laying down his life for atonement of our sins. This is how important we are to God. He died for us. He rose for us. Why? To give us new life: a life at home with God the father, once lost in the fall and regained in the resurrection.

So we ask, “Have I told God ‘I love you?’ Have I heard his voice calling me to his side? Have I accepted the grace of his love and mercy, poured out most abundantly through the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist? Am I following the good shepherd and bringing others to him?”

Dow is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.