4th Sunday of Easter - homily
I think I told you this before, but I had a t-shirt years ago that had a question on the front of it: “Who is your hero?” There was a list of names of celebrities: movie stars, atheletes, politicians, and musicians. On the back of the shirt were the words, “Would he die for you?” I’d like to use a similar t-shirt and questions with regard to today’s Gospel: “Who do you trust?” Do you trust politicians, athletes, rock stars, actors, or people in the media? And, I would like to ask the same question, “Would he die for you?” This might seem a bit extreme, but it’s one of the very points of today’s Gospel.
Who do you trust? Why do you trust them? We trust people who care for us and who love us. We know them and know that they want what’s best for us. They don’t have any hidden agenda or alterior motive. They just want the best for us. I think a sign that we can trust someone is when we see them sacrifice something for us: they give us their time, effort, or energy.
The greatest sign that we can trust Jesus is the Cross. He made the ultimate sacrifice for us. As the Good Shepherd, he laid down his life for us, his sheep. He gave up everything for us. He wants what’s best for us. We can trust him because we know him and we know that he cares for us.
It’s easy for me to say that we should trust in Christ, it’s hard to live it out. It’s hard for many people to trust in Him. Trusting in God comes up a lot with people I talk to. It’s hard for married persons to trust in Him when it comes to being open to life. When I remind them that they are called to be open to life, they are often scared at the mere possibility of having another child. But, to trust in God is to trust in His Plan. He knows what’s best for us; He knows better than we do. His Plan is what’s best for us even if it doesn’t appear to make sense or be what we had in mind.
It’s hard for parents to trust that sending their kids to Catholic schools is what’s best, especially these days where retirement accounts and education funds are dwindling. It takes a lot of trust that all of the sacrifices you are making for your kids are worth it and that you are doing the right thing. It’s hard for single adults to trust in God’s Plan as they are discerning their vocation. It takes a lot of trust that God has a plan for them and will reveal their vocation to them, showing them their place in the Church. People are often scared to go to Confession. It takes a lot of trust that they will have an experience of mercy there.
It’s probably toughest to trust in Christ in the midst of suffering, of carrying a big cross. It’s tough to trust that Christ is with you and that good will come out of it…that there’s a purpose and meaning…that he knows what he’s doing and has a plan.
I’m sure it was a challenge for Christ in his human nature to trust in the Father as he was on the cross. As he approached death, it took a lot of trust that he would rise from the dead. That’s why the Father loves him: because he trusted that if he lay down his life, he would rise again. He trusted in the Father’s plan that resurrection would follow death.
Christ calls us to enter into this type of trust in the Father’s Plan. If we are there with Christ on the cross, we are called to trust that we, too, will have a resurrection experience. We are to trust in Christ as he trusts in the Father. It’s a whole lot easier to trust in ourselves than to trust in God. But, my brothers and sisters, we are sheep. Christ is the shepherd who is leading us. He knows what’s best for us. He knows better than we do. It’s tough to trust in Him, especially when we his answer to our prayers is not what we wanted or things don’t happen as we think they should. But, He is the Good Shepherd who cares for us and laid down his life for us. He truly knows what’s best for us and only wants what’s good for us.
Finally, when we come to the Eucharist, we trust in what Jesus has said. We trust that “this is my body” means “this is my body”. We trust that the Spirit changes the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. We trust in the whole story: that the Good Shepherd became a sheep. He became a lamb, a sacrificial lamb: the Lamb of God. As we receive the Eucharist today, let us say to Him with our hearts, “Lord Jesus, I trust in you.”