Here it is, the Fourth Sunday of Easter already. We’re midway between Easter and Pentecost, in the midst of this great season of revelations — like one continuous, fifty-day-long teachable moment, when the risen Christ gradually lifts the veil from the eyes and minds and hearts of the disciples (and us too, of course).
The disciples don’t know what to make of the news that Jesus is risen from death, that he sends the Spirit upon them, that they too share in his new life.
They keep seeking him, but it’s more like he’s seeking them, or perhaps playing hide and seek with them.
He pops up, he appears, in all sorts of unexpected ways and places. These past weeks we’ve been listening to the tales of his revelations: as the gardener at the tomb — the stranger walking on the road to Emmaus — the one who walks through locked doors to greet his flustered followers — the oddly familiar friend cooking breakfast on the shore.
Jesus is as unpredictable and free as the wind, as ordinary and mysterious as bread broken and shared, as fiercely protective as the shepherd.
The disciples think they’re seeking Jesus. But it is really Jesus who is seeking them.
Today we watch and listen as Paul and Barnabas imitate Jesus, the seeking shepherd. They urge the Jews to “remain faithful to the grace of God.” When the disciples meet a push-back, they speak out boldly and bring their message of new life to others – to the Gentiles, the spiritual ancestors of most of us.
Our God keeps on seeking hearts and minds and spirits. It doesn’t matter whether they are Jew or Gentile, slave or free, woman or man. Listen to the promise that Jesus, the risen One, the Lamb on the throne, holds out to them:
I will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water; I will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.
This promise is meant for you, for me, for a great multitude which no one can count – indeed, for every living being. Today, let’s rejoice in this promise from our God who is Mercy. May we let ourselves be found by the God who never tires of seeking us – no matter where we might be looking.
–Sister Regina Bechtle, SC
Sr. Regina, a retreat leader, speaker, writer and spiritual director, serves as Charism Resource Director for the Sisters of Charity of New York.