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Abundant life | National Catholic Journalist


“I came that they might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Acts 11:1-18; John 10:1-10

Today’s two readings offer us a window into the early church towards the end of the first century as it struggled to grow beyond its original Jewish roots and deal with divisiveness and heresy. inside. Peter’s vision eliminating ritual dietary rules is an insight into disputes over whether converts to Jesus had to become Jews through circumcision and obedience to the law in order to be Christians.

Peter supports the position taken by Paul during his missionary journeys among the Gentiles, where the gift of the Spirit and faith in Jesus were sufficient for membership. The Fourth Gospel and the Letters of John later confronted heretical positions on who Jesus was and the behavior of bad shepherds in emerging Christian communities.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and his goodness is seen in stark contrast to other supposed rulers who apparently abused their positions for personal gain, cheating the flocks entrusted to them. Images of “thieves and murderers” entering the sheepfold over the wall or not entering through the door give us an idea of ​​the crises these early communities may have faced. The images refer to the prophet Jeremiah, who condemned the corrupt shepherds who ravaged and scattered the people of Israel in his day.

Without the Law and the full observance of Jewish rituals, personal faith in Jesus became the authenticating measure of church membership. Baptism and participation in the Eucharist and in the Scriptures were the criteria for belonging to the body of the risen Christ. Those who believed in him heard the voice of Jesus as sheep responding to the voice of their true shepherd.

Prior to the doctrinal councils of the fourth century, the memory of Jesus and the example and professions of early preachers and martyrs helped preserve the church through persecutions and internal strife as traditions took hold . People experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives and communities grew as more converts were drawn to their joy and vitality.

Pope Francis is today calling on believers to walk with each other, to share their struggles and the influence of faith in their lives. These synodal meetings and conversations have always been the basis of the sensus fidelium who has strengthened the church over the generations. Sharing the scriptures and experiencing the graces found in communion deepen trust in the living presence of God in our daily lives. Seeing faith at work in others is the very essence of knowing the one Spirit at work in each of us.

Jesus promises abundant life as a sign that God guides and corrects us on the way. We go to God the ordinary way, to do the best that we can as things come up, day by day.