25 April 2015


acts 4:8-12; 1 john 3:1-2; john 10:11-18

a few years ago, i picked up a new pair of specs from dinshaw’s in pune. back home, i was trying them on and one of the lenses got chipped.
i returned at once and explained to the salesperson what had happened. he rudely told me that i would have to pay for the replacement of the lens. as we were talking, the owner entered and asked what the matter was. i explained what had happened. he apologized for the inconvenience and assured me that the lens would be replaced at no charge. when the salesperson tried arguing with him, he bluntly told him: «nc. no charge»! 

there is a big difference between an owner and a hired hand. perhaps there is a bigger difference between people who are committed and those who are just doing a job. 

that is the point JESUS makes in this sunday’s gospel. 
he contrasts the attitudes of a good shepherd and a false one. a real shepherd is born to his task; it is a vocation! he knows his sheep and even calls them by name; he loves his sheep and they love him; it is second nature for him to think of his sheep before he thinks of himself; he does not abandon his sheep even, and perhaps especially, in the face of danger. for hired hands, to which JESUS likens the pharisees, it is a «job» and not as a calling; they are in it solely for the pay, with absolutely no concern for the sheep: «they care nothing for the sheep» and so they run away in the face of danger. 
one who works out of loving commitment thinks of the people one is serving, and is totally with them. one who works out of a sense of obligation thinks chiefly about oneself and recompense.

JESUS was the good shepherd who loved his sheep deeply and whose concern for them extended to freely laying down his life: «no one takes it from me, but i lay it down on my own.»

JESUS, the good shepherd, invites us to be good shepherds. he challenges us to move from acting out of obligation to service in loving commitment; to stand with and be a faithful presence to people in need.
who, in my life, needs «good shepherding»? what forms will «being with» take? 

18 April 2015


acts 3:13-15, 17-19; 1 john 2:1-5a; luke 24:35-48

frederick charrington, the owner of the charrington brewery, was walking along a london street with a few friends.
suddenly, just ahead of them, the door of a pub flew open. a man staggered into the street with a woman clinging to him and pleading: «please, dear! the children haven’t eaten in two days! i’ve not eaten in a week! please come home! or… just give me a few coins so i can buy the children some…» her pleas were cut off as the man struck her. charrington and his friends leaped forward to help her.
a little later, as a policeman led the drunken man away, charrington noticed a lighted sign on the pub: «drink charrington ale.» the multi-millionaire brewer was stunned. he later wrote: here was the source of my family wealth, and it was producing untold human misery before my own eyes. then and there i pledged to GOD that not another penny of that money should come to me.»
frederick charrington renounced his family fortune and spent the rest of his life striving to free people from alcoholism.

charrington had the courage to «repent» and begin again. this is thrust of today’s readings!
in the first reading, peter moves quickly from castigating the jews for putting to death «the author of life» to calling them to «repent… and be converted.» he knows that—as the second reading puts it—we have an advocate with the father: JESUS, the righteous one, who is the expiation for our sins. 
repentance is the content of the message that JESUS entrusts to the disciples in one of his post-resurrection appearances. after giving them his peace, he commissions them to preach «repentance for the forgiveness of sins.»

as human beings, we sin, we produce misery for others, we put people to «death»… sometimes out of ignorance and sometimes deliberately. the LORD calls us to have the courage to repent and to begin anew. and then we will experience his peace.
let me start again…