April 26, 2018
by Eileen Burke-Sullivan
Creighton University's Mission and Ministry Division
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 282

Acts 13:13-25
Psalms 89:2-3, 21-22, 25 and 27
John 13:16-20

Celebrating Easter

Easter Prayer for Today

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Our Hope for Everlasting Life

Easter Joy in Everyday Life

During these weeks in the heart of the Easter Season, the Church reminds us that we are not called to just look admiringly on Jesus and say “good for you,” we are NOW living in the Reign of God with the Risen Christ, we are empowered with the Lord’s Risen Presence and Spirit, and we are called to imitate him in all things in our lives.  When we receive this grace of the Easter Season (or the Fourth Week in terms of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius) we live no longer for ourselves but for Christ. 

Today’s readings have an interesting point of entry into this new way of living our human lives.  St. Paul preaches to the people of Antioch in Pisidia the history of salvation.  He is speaking to an assembly of Jews and “God-fearers” that is pagans who we attracted to the God of Israel but hadn’t yet converted to Judaism. The history for them would be old news except his reference to John the Baptist and Jesus.  He tells us that John the Baptist said he is not worthy to untie Jesus’ sandals – a statement that is well attested to in the four gospels as well. 

The Church ties this passage to a Gospel text from John that describes Jesus’ short address to the Apostles after washing their feet.  “No slave is greater than the master, nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.”  Just as Jesus is sent by the Father, and is no greater than the Father, so are his disciples sent by him.  We are clearly not greater than Jesus, but we are given his Spirit to be his partners in the mission, or work of the Father, to bring about God’s Reign.  Baptism makes us “worthy” of this task.  That is the heart of the Easter message.  Jesus has unleashed the power of God’s Spirit into all who claim His name, are baptized into his death and resurrection and live their lives according to His message.

All this talk of feet and sandals is to awaken in us the humble and exalted truth that at one and the same time we are to exercise the power of God – but as Jesus did – only according to God’s will, not our own.  We are not worthy to touch his sandal strap, no matter how wealthy, intelligent, or talented we might be.  But we are capable of raising the dead to new life, loving and forgiving in the face of hatred, calming the various storms of life and so on, if we do so in Jesus’ name and according to the Father’s Will – because whoever receives Jesus receives the Father.

In his recent Apostolic Exhortation, Pope Francis says that what we call “holiness” is living this truth of the Spirit’s role in our daily lives: “Your identification with Christ and his will involves a commitment to build with him that kingdom of love, justice and universal peace. . .  You cannot grow in holiness without committing yourself, body and soul, to giving your best to this endeavor.” Gaudete et Exultate #25

So our invitation is to tie up our sandals and walk with Jesus his mission and his manner of fulfilling it.

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