Written on: May 8, 2019
Today we hear Paul and Barnabas, full of joy and enthusiasm, preaching the good news to the Jews and converts to Judaism. The whole city came to hear them, but the leaders incited opposition and sought to expel the two preachers. They for their part, filled with joy and the Holy Spirit, moved on, shaking the dust from their feet. Then we hear Jesus, in the Gospel, saying that his sheep hear his voice and they follow him, and no one can take them out of his hand.
This makes me wonder about people today who are not churchgoers. How do they hear God’s voice? How is God working in their lives?
In serving as a Hospital Chaplain, I often hear patients say:
“I don’t go to church anymore. I’m not a good Catholic.”
I usually respond, “Well, there are many ways to be a good person in this world.”
And they will often say, “Oh, I’m a good person!”
It’s puzzling when something (e.g., churchgoing) is important in one’s own life, but many people see it differently. There was a survey in America Magazine a year or so ago that asked Catholics how often they attended church. If my memory serves me correctly, a good percentage of steady churchgoers attended not every Sunday, but several times a month. But there was a larger percentage that did not attend at all, or infrequently.
The reading from Revelation gives us the vision of a great multitude, dressed in white robes, palm branches in their hands. They have survived the time of great distress. The Lamb will shelter them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and wipe away every tear from their eyes.
God is faithful, and works uniquely in each person’s life. In time of trouble (e.g., illness, hospitalization) God is with us to comfort us. “Though I walk through the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for You are with me.” That’s the promise — that all people are held in God’s embrace, that God shepherds us all, that with or without churchgoing, we are held in the embrace of a loving God.
In the Gospel today we hear Jesus say: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they know me.”
The God we believe in walks with us, stays with us every minute of every day of our lives.
Whatever spiritual practices we have, let us follow them faithfully. And let us always be ready for the Holy One to break through and let us sense the Presence at any time, in any place. And let us trust that God is equally present and active in the lives of those we love and of everyone we meet, even if they can’t perceive it.
“Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever and ever.”
Blog Photo: Bonnie Kittle/Unsplash
This week’s reflection was prepared by Sister Donna Lord. As Donna mentions in her reflection, she is a hospital chaplain in Buffalo. She lives in a small welcoming community- a convent where people are invited to visit and participate in a variety of activities such as book clubs, shared prayer and reflection days with a faith focus.