The Path to Salvation

Post Date: May 4, 2022
Author: Henry Avila

A Reflection on the Readings for Sunday, May 8, the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Reading I: Acts 13:14, 43-52
Responsorial: Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 5
Reading II: Revelation 7:9, 14b-17
Gospel: John 10:27-30

In the Old Testament (OT), the Jewish people were selected as a special people by God to receive special blessings. This act by God seems exclusionary, but he told the Hebrews (aka Jews) that they were chosen so they could be the “first-born child” of God and they could lead the other children of God (the non-Jews, or Gentiles) to the Lord by their example. The Hebrew people failed to be that “light to the Gentiles” through their unfaithfulness to God by worshipping idols.

Sometimes we read the scriptures regarding the Jews and we may think, “What a bunch of ungrateful sinners! How could they abandon God knowing what He has done for them?” Yet, we “modern” believers do the same by neglecting to give praise and glory to the Lord for what He has done for us – He gave us “his only begotten son” to die for our sins and restore the broken communion into communion with the Blessed Trinity itself. We neglect the treasures given to us through the Church, such as baptism, confession and the Eucharist. We even find it difficult to come and spend 5 minutes with our Lord before the Blessed Sacrament. We have to find our way back to a greater appreciation and a thankful heart for the tremendous blessing the Lord has bestowed upon us that are “destined to eternal life.”

Reading II 

In the book of Revelation, John the Apostle sees a vision of heaven with “a great multitude [of people] which no one could count.” In some cases, the Jews felt that they had exclusive access to God and those “outsiders,” the Gentiles, were out of luck in reaching salvation. But the Lord reveals through John that He “desires all to be saved.” (1Tim 2:4) by revealing the great multitude of those in heaven that have been saved by God’s grace in Jesus Christ.

Those “saved” people in heaven are there because they have survived the “great distress.” This means those who are persecuted for their faith, but also for all those who have suffered much in this life on earth. There is much “distress” among our people at this time with sickness, loss of life, and many other difficulties people endure in the world. We must never lose hope that God’s grace can get us through any difficulty, but we must trust in His divine will for our lives. The only way we get to heaven is to “endure to the end” (Mt 10:22), and we will then “receive a crown of glory” (2Tim 4:6-8) from our Lord himself.

Gospel 

The scriptures often depict Jesus as a “shepherd” and we as his sheep. It is a beautiful metaphor in that the sheep are completely dependent on the shepherd to guide and protect them. We, believers, are called to trust that our Good Shepherd, Jesus, will be there to guide and protect us always. This protection is not so much one against physical harm, but more so a protection from the greatest enemy – sin. We may lose our life to an evil perpetrated against us in this world, but that death, which comes to us all at some time, will result in a glorious resurrection to the next life of pure bliss and joy. Our shepherd is concerned with the safety of our souls more than the safety of our bodies. He can and will give us another body once this one is gone, but He cannot give us a new soul at our death once we have chosen not to believe and trust in Him. After death, the body can be regenerated, but the soul is at once judged to be worthy of heaven or hell. We don’t get a second chance at our judgment day.

This regeneration is the eternal life that He promises to give to those who follow Him. They will receive an imperishable crown of glory (1Pt 5:4) even though their bodies have been decimated by the world. The Lord Jesus always calls His sheep to stay close to Him and obey his commands. It is through this obedience to his voice that we are able to survive against the “wolves and lions” (1Pt 5:8) of this world that want to devour our souls and condemn us to the eternal fires of hell. His message of salvation to the sheep is simple, “follow my commands and endure to the end.” (Jn 14:15, Mt 10:22). His commandment is that we love one another as He loved us – willing to give His life for us. This is a hard teaching, but one that is fundamental to our salvation.

As we endure the hardships of this life, let us always remember that if we love Jesus, we will keep his commandment to love one another. And through the difficulty of loving everyone, even our enemies (Mt 5:44), we must endure to the end with His grace that is all-sufficient. (2Cor 12:9)

Author: Henry Avila, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Troop 1517 Scout Master

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