What our eyes cannot see, our heart perceives and understands

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:8-12

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said: "Leaders of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved."

1 John 3:1-2

Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

John 10:11-18

Jesus said: "I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father."

While the world has been turned upside down by the mighty Covid-19 virus and many continue to struggle with their physical, financial, psychological, and spiritual well-being, hope still abounds in the midst of such restlessness, fear, and distress. This Sunday’s readings reassure us that “there is no salvation through anyone else” but the beloved Son of God, “Jesus Christ the Nazorean” (Acts 4:12, 10). This Nazorean is not an outsider who does not understand human suffering, nor a hired hand who values their own life over that of the sheep under their charge, but the Good Shepherd who willingly “lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10: 11). 。Like Martha, who acknowledges Jesus’ salvific power even as she grieves for Lazarus’ death, “knows” that “he will rise in the resurrection on the last day”, we also “know” in our head that Jesus is the ultimate source of our salvation (Jn 11:24). However, do we truly see, and perhaps feel, it in our heart and soul?

The journey from head to heart is strenuous and challenging but necessary as we strive to follow the Good Shepherd’s voice. In the first reading, Peter, now without his beloved teacher and friend, shows no fear in front of the “leaders of the people and elders”; pointing out their faults and blessings in equal measure (Acts 4:8). This scene in the Acts of the Apostles stands in stark contrast to that of the Upper Room where Peter and the other apostles are hiding from the Jewish authorities in fear for their own lives. What is Peter’s secret weapon? Before Jesus’ departure, He had promised his followers an Advocate, the Spirit of truth, “whom the Father will send in [Jesus’] name (Jn 14:25). The Holy Spirit “will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you” (Jn 14:26). Peter finally sees what Jesus meant after the Pentecost. Therefore, with a heart transformed and empowered by the Holy Spirit (after receiving the Holy Spirit on Pentecost), Peter calls the leaders and elders out for choosing to crucify Jesus, “the Nazorean whom you crucified” (Acts 4:10). At the same time, Peter also offers them a way out, that is, hope. Peter explains that just as the cripple is healed and saved in Jesus’ name, salvation will come to those who call on His name (ref. Acts 4:9-10, 12). This stone, though rejected by the builders, has become the “cornerstone” on which our hope rests.

Our journey from head to heart is indeed challenging, if we don’t keep our eyes open and our ears tuned, we could easily get all tangled up in brambles. However, as we follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, this strenuous journey suddenly turns into an adventure of a lifetime! The Spirit in us; the same Spirit promised by Jesus and given to us through the sacrament of confirmation, sharpens all our senses, and most importantly our heart, to “taste and see that the Lord is good”, and appreciate “what love the Father has bestowed on us” (Ps 34:8, 1 Jn 3:1). What our eyes cannot see, our heart perceives and understands, “we are God’s children now; … we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:2). All our hope rests on this knowledge of the heart that we are God’s children, not orphans, and that God, our Father, will never forsake us even when we turn a blind eye to His love.

From the brambles of our own pride, Christ frees us with His ultimate sacrifice out of love, “I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own” (Jn 10:17-18). We “offer You our failures, we offer You attempts”; we rise again “to create ourselves anew” (“Ashes” by Tom Conry)

From the ashes of our fear, the Good Shepherd reassures, “I came so that [you] might have life and have it more abundantly […] I will lay down my life for [you]” (Jn 10:10,15). Lord, we rise again in hope, joy, and love.

As we continue this joyful Easter season, let us dig deeper into our heart to heed and follow the voice of our Good Shepherd.

Posted: April 25, 2021

Susanna Mak

Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。 Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, to mention a few. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.

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