Homily Fourth Sunday of Easter Year B Salvation through Jesus

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Homily Fourth Sunday of Easter Year B

 

Reading 1: Background. Peter has experience the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. He and John some days later go to the Temple to give praise and thanks to God for his many blessings. At the gate of the Temple they encounter a crippled beggar. Led by the Holy Spirit, Peter heals the man in the name of Jesus Christ. The man begins to dance and jump, praising God. The people were amazed on seeing this cripple now fully restored.

 

In response to their amazement, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, witnessed about Jesus Christ.  This is his second opportunity to do so. His first was after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. He witnessed to the crowd which had gathered as a result of the mighty sound of wind.

 

The heart of his preaching then and now was the same. There is no salvation accept through Jesus Christ. He is the both Lord and Messiah.  In proclaiming this Peter has come full circle in his understanding of who Jesus is. Early on in his following Jesus as a disciple, Jesus asked “Who do you say I am”? Peter, under the inspiration of God blurted out: “You are Christ, the Messiah.” He spoke the correct answer, but did not know what it fully meant. Now, he has seen the risen Christ. Now he understands what Jesus meant when he said that the Son of Man must suffer a cruel death by crucifixion for the salvation of the world and be raised up.

 

Peter in his proclamation is doing what Jesus told him and the others to do.  When they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they were to be witnesses of the mystery of salvation in the name of Jesus to others.

 

We have experienced this gift of salvation at the time of our baptism.  In the words of the responsorial psalm: We give thanks to God, for he has been our savior.  We believe in the name of Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Is our life one of witness to others? Can others see God’s life and love in us?

 

Gospel: What does it mean for Jesus to be the Savior of the world, to be my Lord and Savior? In the Gospel Jesus identifies himself as the Good Shepherd. He cares for his sheep even to the point of laying down his life for them. The Shepherd is for the sheep primarily and the sheep for the shepherd secondarily.

 

Jesus lays down his life so that we in turn may have life to the fullest. He did this on the cross in order to expiate our sins. In him is our reconciliation and salvation. Salvation comes to us through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Salvation means that our sins are forgiven. As a result, we will not suffer the second death which is total and eternal alienation from the source of life, God. But salvation is a grace from God. We don’t earn it or merit it. But we can lose it if we do not continue to live in relationship to God.  Freed from the bondage of sin, we can return to the bondage of Satan. And if we die, not sharing in God’s life, then the gift of salvation will not have the eternal impact in our lives that God desires.

 

Recall that Esau, being the first born twin of Isaac, would by right receive the inheritance and blessing of his Father. He would become head of the family. The promises God made to Abraham and his descendants would flow through him. But Esau sold his birth right to Jacob, his twin, for a pot of stew. At the time it didn’t mean anything to him.  Bu when his father was dying, he realized what he had foolishly done. It was too late.

 

The promises that flow from salvation in Jesus are ours unless like Esau we foolishly forfeit them through a life of sin and die in sin.

 

Salvation is a precious gift for it reminds us of God’s life in us. Our human life is precious to us. We want to live a fully possible. But is our sharing in God’s life more precious to us? Our human life will end one day not matter how we seek to extend it. But our life as a child of God will continually eternally. What are we doing to deepen and enhance the shared life from God? As we become very concern about physical cancer, how alarmed are we of the spiritual cancer of sin, which will have an eternal effect?

 

Reading 2: John tells us what salvation through and in Jesus should mean to us. When we were baptized, we became adopted children of God, who one day are called to be like him. He is holy and we are called to be holy, so that we will be able to see him face to face. In baptism we became disciples of Jesus. Since then we have been learning how to grow in the life of God, in holiness, so that we can, like Peter, be witnesses of Jesus to others.

 

Our witness is to be life of love. Jesus said: “They will know that you are my disciples by the love you have for one another.” That love flows from the life we share in God as a result of the gift of salvation. We preach it more by our actions than by our words as Peter did in the first reading and as Jesus did in the Gospel. Jesus showed his love by laying down his life so that we may have life. When we lay down our lives in love for others, we are proclaiming the death and resurrection of Jesus until he comes again. 

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