Fourth Sunday of Easter (Mother’s Day)

May 8, 2022
Sister Jan Ginzkey shares a reflection on the scripture readings: Acts 13:14, 43-52;
Psalm 100:2-5; Revelation 7:9, 14b-17; John 10:27-30


I want to wish every mother, grandmother, godmother and all who serve in a mothering
role a very blessed and happy Mother’s Day. I hope each of you know how much you
are loved. You have brought and cared for new life in our world. You are co-creators
with God.


Psalm 100 is filled with joy and comfort. We are God’s people called to follow and serve
with gladness and joyful song. God’s kindness and steadfast faithfulness lasts forever.
In the Gospel, John takes up this theme. We are the flock who recognize Christ’s voice
and follow Him. No one can take us from Christ and the promise of eternal life.


Today I want to focus on the Acts of the Apostles and the Book of Revelation which
address God’s inclusivity. Our human mind cannot grasp God’s unconditional, steadfast
love. We create our own version of God and so limit God’s graciousness. The Jews of
the Hebrew Scriptures believed that they alone were God’s chosen people. They were
unable to conceive that God could love other tribes or nations.


I wonder if our twenty-first century understanding of God has changed much from the
time of Christ. We can read about the divisions among the first century Christians in the
Acts of the Apostles and Paul’s letters. The crusades were supposed to reclaim the
Holy Land for Christianity by destroying the Arab Muslims. Today the radical ISIS and
caliphate have sworn to destroy the infidels or non-Muslims. Different interpretations of
ideologies, theologies, understanding of sin, the sacraments and the nature of Jesus
have led to schisms, wars, and always each group claims that God can only be on “our
side.”


The cycle of generational trauma caused by one group of people taking the land and
displacing, dehumanizing another group; forcing poverty, inequality, injustices to the
point of apartheid or genocide has been repeated in every century and on every
continent. The fear of losing privileges, power and prestige leads to greater oppression
and injustices and greater inequality. The oppressors or colonist deny any responsibility
and resist restorative justice. The Doctrine of Discovery and the idea of manifest destiny
are still referenced in our legal and social systems today.


I believe that we are called to break this cycle of trauma, injustice, and oppression. We
are called to be witnesses of another WAY. Instead of teaching hate, fear, supremacy or
constant competition with one another, Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as
ourselves. We are to pray for our enemies. God created us to live in harmony with one
another and creation. Pope Francis’ encyclicals, Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti
emphasize that we are all one. To care for creation is to care for ourselves. To love one
another is the Way to peace.


In Acts of the Apostles and Revelation today, we experience the joy of God’s expansive
inclusivity. Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch to share the Good News of God’s
Kindom of love to everyone, Jew, and Gentile. When some leaders and prominent
citizens rejected God’s generosity and were unable to imagine sharing the privilege of
being God’s chosen people, they became angry, fearful, resentful, and refused to listen,
to hear or understand the gift they were being offered. Is the polarization we are
experiencing in our country and the world another example of refusing to listen, to be
unwilling to be open to another view, another option or possibility or opportunity to
grow?


Paul reminded the Jews, and he reminds us, “you are a light to the Gentiles, that you
may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the world.” Everyone is to be included
in God’s world, God’s love. God loves all Jews, all Christians, all Muslims, all Buddhists,
all Indigenous people. God lovingly created each race and gender and calls each
person by name. We are all one family united in Our God of many names. John saw a
vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people,
and tongue. All were together united in their love of God who first loved each one of
them.


My fervent prayer is that each of us can do our part, like Paul and Barnabas, like
Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr., Bishop Romero, who all spoke out for
justice, peace, and nonviolence. We may not feel as courageous or bold as these
leaders. We may fear the sacrifice and suffering each experienced in living the Gospel
values. Jesus said to follow Him was to pick up our cross. If we truly listen and follow
Christ, we will suffer. But we know that we will be among the multitude John saw joyfully
singing praise to God.


Each of us can become passionate for justice and peace. We can show respect for one
another in our families, our neighborhoods, our cities, and our rural communities. We
can be open to listen, to share from our heart and be willing to see and try another way,
God’s way. We can bring the Kindom of God right here, right now. If we each do our
part, we will discover the joy and peace promised in Psalm 100. We will be the flock that
recognizes Christ’s voice and follows Him.