East4C19. Acts of the Apostles 13:14, 43-52. Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch to the synagogue to announce Jesus as the Messiah. The next Sabbath the crowds that came to hear Paul and Barnabas were so great that the Jews “were filled with jealousy and contradicted them with violent abuse.” To the delight of the Gentiles Paul and Barnabas announced to the Gentiles that they were now invited to follow Jesus because the Jews had rejected him. The Jews “stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory.” “The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.” To follow Christ is a joy in part because discipleship means that God the Holy Spirit lives in us giving us his heavenly life. This first reading says, “All who were destined for eternal life came to believe.” I understand this to mean that God can see the future and know who will freely choose Christ and those who will choose to reject him.
John 10:27-30. Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Jesus takes possession of those who have chosen to belong to him. We listen to him as the only one who has eternal truth and follow him personally each day throughout the day. We live with great joy because of the security we have knowing that he will never abandon us but will fiercely fight to keep us as his loyal sheep. Jesus asserts that he says these things, not as only a human being but as God Himself. His allegiance to us is based on his divinity and can never fail.
Psalm 100. Know that the Lord is God; he made us, his we are; his people, the flock he tends.” In Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me (follow me) must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’” I believe that the cross that is essential to be being Christian is that we must reject belonging to ourselves and our own will but rather to radically accept that we belong to God and his will alone. To accept the status of being his sheep we must reject personal independence and live in total dependence on Jesus our Shepherd. He is God alone. Human nature, every moment of our lives, calls upon us to be independent, god of our own lives. As long as we live on this earth we only successfully challenge our human nature with the endless help of the Holy Spirit. Only he can enable us to live as true sheep of Jesus, the Shepherd.
Revelation 7:9, 14b-17. “John had a vision of a great multitude,” which “stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.” Massive numbers of saints who had attained heaven stood before their all-powerful God. They survived great persecution and attained the glory of the crown of martyrdom. The Lamb, Jesus who offered himself up as the sacrificial offering to redeem us from our sins, shepherded them to heaven. God wiped “away every tear from their eyes.”