Tuesday, April 27, 2010

E Pluribus Unum

First Reading: Acts 11:19-26
Psalm: 87 -- All you nations, praise the Lord.
Gospel: Jn 10:22-30
I tell of Egypt and Babylon among those who know the LORD;
Of Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia: “This man was born there.”
And of Zion they shall say: “One and all were born in her;
And he who has established her is the Most High LORD.”
They shall note, when the peoples are enrolled: “This man was born there.”
And all shall sing, in their festive dance: “My home is within you.” - Psalm 87:4-7
There were some Cypriots and Cyrenians among them, however, who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks as well, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. - Acts 11:20-21
My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. - John 10:27
One of the greatest things about Christianity is that it is for everyone. You need not be born into a certain ethnicity or a selected country. You need not belong to this or that social or economic circle. We are united by something greater than any earthly institution.

All three of the readings today highlight this Christian inclusiveness. The psalm mentions five nations whom the Israelites have had contact with, most of it not friendly. The Egyptians had enslaved them; the Babylonians and citizens of Tyre were pagans; the Philistines had (recently for the psalmist) fought with the Israelites for years over control of Judea. Yet, the psalmist prophesies that those born there will know the Lord. Even more, he says that they will recognize their true home as Zion, the Lord's mountain.

In Acts, we hear of the very first instance of the gentiles hearing the Word of God. In fact, it was this very instance that began the ministries of Paul and Barnabas. This was so revolutionary that they now needed a new word to describe the community. They couldn't be seen only as a sect of Judaism any longer. A new standard was needed under which all the followers of Jesus could be identified. Thus, it was in Antioch that they first came to be known as Christians.

Finally, in the gospel, we have a reiteration from Sunday's reading with Jesus' statement that He knows his sheep and they will follow Him. Just before this reading, we hear another wonderful verse: "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" (John 10:16). We are united in one faith, by one Lord. It is in Christ that the many become one, where the diverse people of the world become the Universal Church.

Heavenly Father, we thank You for giving us another day to glorify Your name. Thank you for giving us a home, a family where we are always welcome and none are turned away. Lord, heal Your Church of all divisions; Holy Spirit, guide us in overcoming our differences; Jesus, gather Your flock and lead us home. We ask this through the same Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

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