April 27, 2015
by Jay Carney
Creighton University's Department of Theology
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 279

Acts 11:1-18
Psalm 42:2-3; 43:3, 4
John 10:1-10

Celebrating Easter

Today's Easter Prayer

Every time I hear this gospel reading, I think back to a memorable encounter I had on a cattle farm in rural central Uganda. I had accompanied one of the local Catholic brothers to see the parish's Ankole cattle. I thought I would just be observing, but he quickly gave me a stick and instructed me to start herding. So I began shouting in my loudest American English, "Heel!" "Come!" "Let's Go!" Most of the cattle stood still, chewing grass. A few ran away from me. I began chasing them. They kept running. And my Ugandan friend finally bailed me out, laughing the whole time. "But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers" (John 10:5)

Discerning the voice of God emerges as a key theme in both of today's readings. In John's gospel, Jesus's voice competes with the voices of bandits and thieves, yet the sheep seem to instinctively know the voice of their shepherd (not unlike Ugandan cattle). In our reading from Acts, the discernment of voices stretches out a bit longer. Luke takes nearly two chapters to narrate the story of the conversion of Cornelius – and perhaps more importantly the conversion of Peter and the "circumcised believers" to a new vision of communion with Gentiles. It is the Spirit-inspired voices of the Gentiles – "speaking in tongues and extolling God" (Acts 10:46) – that offer Peter and his friends conclusive evidence of God's new vision. It is God's voice that continues challenging Peter, guiding him through his famous dream at Joppa and later calling him to "no longer make a distinction between them and us" (Acts 11:12). And it is the angel's voice that opens Cornelius himself to Peter's message of salvation.

God is nothing if not persistent. And in the face of our own biases, fears, and ignorance, this is likely a good thing. For the deeper meaning of God's revelation is not necessarily obvious, especially when it counters our own preconceived certainties. It takes time, prayer, conversation, debate and often a good deal of hindsight to perceive God's voice. Discernment also entails following the path of discipleship. Like the sheep, Peter, and Cornelius, we may find that it is in the following that we learn how to listen. And like the circumcised believers, we may find ourselves both reduced to silence and inspired to praise a God of such abundant life.

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.

Sharing this reflection with others by Email, on Facebook or Twitter:

Email this pageFacebookTwitter

Print Friendly

See all the Resources we offer on our Online Ministries Home Page

Daily Reflection Home

Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook