Breath of the Spirit Reflection: That All May Be One
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April 25th, 2021: Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Psalm 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9
1 John 2:1-5a
Reflection from Tom DeVoyd
Just before our first reading, the disciples performed a healing on a person with a debilitating illness, a healing that caught the attention of the local authorities. When brought before the local council, Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit and speaks out about Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. My interpretation: each of us can find ourselves in the person who had been healed. Because Jesus died for all of us, we are healed. In this healing of the world, Jesus becomes the cornerstone of the church. In the architectural practice of Jesus’ time, builders used the cornerstone to make sure that the whole building was properly aligned and therefore structurally sound. It took me a long time to realize that the stone that was rejected, meaning Jesus, is our cornerstone as well. Jesus helps us know where we fit in life.
In Luke 2:49, after being “found” in the temple, Jesus asked Mary and Joseph, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I would be in God’s house?” This points to Jesus’ sacramental nature, which is made explicit in today’s reading from Acts, “There is no salvation through anyone else” (Acts 4:12). This further emphasizes that Jesus is our salvation, the source of our healing. In this age of social unrest, COVID-19, and all the changes that are happening, this comforts me. The LGBTQI community has begun to see changes as well. In many parts of the country, we are getting more protections than we ever had, and a growing number of communities are looking to become more inclusive. This reading reminds me that through Jesus there is a saving arc in creation that will eventually encompass all people.
In the second reading, John refers to the “children of God.” This describes the relationship that we all have with God. We are part of the Divine family. We are in the image of God. We were brought into this relationship through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. But although we are in the likeness of God, we are fallible. We get sick and die, but we are promised that we will soon have no death. This points us toward the family unity that we are striving for now: a time when we all are treated equally no matter our gender affiliation, sexuality, or how we identify ourselves.
Today’s gospel offers us a clear metaphor – Jesus is the good shepherd. Jesus will lay down life for the flock (which is all of us). Jesus says that the good shepherd knows the sheep who are being tended, and the sheep also know Jesus. It is Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who will unite us all. Finally, the gospel claims that this command from God – to lay down one’s life – which Jesus does willingly, is precisely what unites us.
Unity is the overarching theme of the readings. The responsorial psalm and the first reading say it well, “The stone rejected by the builders will become the cornerstone of the church.” Jesus will unite the world to each other and then also to God. Society craves unity. Given the recent glimpses of hope for the LGBTQI community, we dare to dream that this may be a time of greater unification across the globe. That this may be a time when our differences are not the cause for rejection but the catalyst for celebration. How can we be conscious of our differences from, and our differences with, many of the people in our world, but – with Jesus as our cornerstone – let those differences lead us, not to division, but to a greater unity in God’s all-encompassing love?
Tom DeVoyd is a nurse in long term care and works with resident with Dementia. He is an advocate for his residents and has a Masters’ Degree in Nursing in Adult Psych/ Mental Health. He is also an advocate for the LGBTQI community. Tom currently lives in a small town in NH with his partner of years Phil. He enjoys reflecting on the scriptures, and focusing on the world of when the scriptures were written.