My students often ask me the question, “If Jesus was Jewish, then why aren’t we Jewish?” I guess that question makes sense. I tell them how Jesus was the one prophesied about in the scrolls that the Jews read in the synagogues – case in point is when Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah in the temple about Himself – and in doing so revealed who He really was. The Jews in the temple that day did not take Jesus’ proclamation well – they thought He was blaspheming and wanted Him out! There were those that came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah they had been waiting for – they converted to Christianity. Then there were those who did not believe that He was the Anointed one of whom the prophets foretold – and they remained Jewish. The first reading tells about how the Gentiles often accepted the good news that the Apostles brought better than God’s chosen people.
In the second reading from Revelation, I am drawn to thoughts about our present, turbulent times. It is so hard to raise holy, happy, humble children who love the Lord and resist the pull of this world. It is not a daily struggle – but an hourly battle. It can be done, however, with all of the heavenly help we have reinforcing us as followers of Christ. If we ask Jesus, Mary, the angels and the saints in heaven for back up, they will come to our assistance – in fact, they never ever leave us alone. I love how John talks about the wonderful reward that awaits the ones who have “survived this time of great distress.” (I wonder if He’s talking about our present day time of great distress??) Oh, Lord, let us be in that number!!
Jesus tells us in the gospel that we (His sheep) hear His voice and follow Him. Do we always recognize His voice? If we never hear it/seldom hear it, then not spending enough time in silent prayer – listening. Our environment is saturated by noise and activity. We want the peace that only the Shepherd can give, but do we set aside time just to be with Him – to be filled – to be present? I feel so reassured when Jesus says that “no one can take them out of my hand.” That’s an excellent image to ponder in prayer – being curled up – safe and secure – in the Father’s hand.
Have a beautiful, blessed Sunday!