Gospel Lectio Divina for the Fourth Sunday of Easter
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
“My sheep hear my voice”
The truth is a person. His name is Jesus Christ. Therefore, the truth has a voice. When we know Jesus, we recognize that voice. We can distinguish it from a crowd of other voices. We can discern when he is speaking and when he is not.
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”
We are sinners. Because of our sin we will die an eternal death unless we turn to God, repent, and give him our lives. In exchange, God gives us the greatest reward of all: eternal life with him. This is the kerygma, the proclamation of the gospel, that has attracted believers for two thousand years. We live in a time when this proclamation has been muffled by other proclamations that detract from this central message of Jesus. As I meditate on his words, those other proclamations dwindle away. I notice in the large scheme of things, they all don’t matter. All that matters is eternal life. If I can’t have that, I may as well have nothing. It’s like St. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68). That may be my favorite verse in all of Scripture because it simplifies my quest. I may not have found everything I am looking for, but I know I am on the right track, because no one else offers eternal life. No one else even talks about it. The other proclamations are about things of this world, things that will fade away. There is something deep inside that wants something I know will last forever. Jesus’ offer and his love gives me that.
“My father . . . is greater than all.”
He is not just another god. Jesus’ father is God of all. This is quite a bold claim that ought to be backed up if one is going to say it. The good thing is, Jesus did back it up. Fulfilling his father’s plan, he rose from the dead showing he has power over death. When he died, there was an earthquake and an eclipse, showing that his father has power over the physical world.
“no one can take them out of the Father’s hand”
Once we allow God to hold us in his hand, he never lets go. “May the Lord uphold you in the hollow of his hand” goes the Irish blessing. This is a reminder of our relationship with him. He never lets go, but we may forget how close he is to us. When we turn to sin, it’s hard to see him. But when we turn back to him, we feel his embrace–and it is the most familiar thing in the world. It makes the heart ache and it brings everything together. The Lord’s hands are always at work protecting us, providing for us, blessing us, saving us. His grasp is firm but not uncomfortably restrictive. There is freedom when we walk hand in hand with him, because when we do we can go places we otherwise would not be able to go.
“The Father and I are one.”
I’ve heard it said that Jesus never claimed to be God. Well, here is one place where he basically is claiming that. Now, someone could still split hairs and say he was being metaphorical. But he is being literal. He also said “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). If God the Father and Jesus are one, the next question I naturally have is: “Then how can he also be human?” Human nature and divine nature are two different things entirely. I’m not going to get into the whole mystery of the hypostatic union and the Christological controversy. It suffices to simply say that God is capable of anything. On the other hand though, he cannot contradict himself. Therein lies the beautiful connection between Jesus’ human and divine natures. In being both God and man, Jesus is proving that divine nature and human nature are not opposites. As Jesus exemplifies, the two natures in fact have a great deal in common. Jesus can be both human and divine because–despite original sin–human nature is still good. God the Father and Jesus can be one because human and divine nature not only share similar qualities; the two natures have the same origin and the same end: the Alpha and the Omega. Jesus prayed, “that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:21). He wants us to be one with God just as he is. Human nature is redeemable, and Christ redeemed it so we can be one with the divine.
I also pray that we may be one, just as you and Jesus are one. We want to be your sons and daughters, to share in the divine nature and live the divine life in Christ, our Lord and Savior. There truly is none greater than you, God our Father. As we sojourn in this valley of death, be our rod and staff. Comfort us and lead us to the heavenly gates that seem so far yet so close. You are holy. You alone are good. Keep us among your flock. Help us to always recognize your voice. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Now we do just that; we listen for his voice. We recognize it by familiarizing ourselves with Scripture, the Word of God. What is God calling you to do through this Gospel.
Kilby is a freelance writer from New Jersey and managing editor of Catholic World Report.