Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter
(Acts 11:1-18; John 10:11-18)
When Fr. Stanley Rother received a message threatening his life, he refused to leave his mission. “The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger,” he said. Fr. Rother was a priest from Oklahoma working among indigenous people in Guatemala. Eventually he did leave, but he could not stay away long. Urged by the words of today’s gospel, he returned to the people he had come to love. Not long afterwards, he was assassinated. As Pope Francis has declared him a legitimate martyr, Rother will be beatified this September.
Jesus, the Son of God, will lay down his life for all humans. His death will be neither suicidal nor resisted. Rather it will manifest sacrificial love for the good of sinners. Jesus makes them holy – the first meaning of sacrifice – by acting as their representative. On their behalf he perfectly obeys the Father’s will that he immerse himself in the world. It is the world under the spell of the evil one who has him crucified. God in the end will raise him and those who join themselves to him from the dead.
We join ourselves to Jesus in Baptism and live this union in our relationships with others. Mothers exhibit Jesus’ sacrificial love when they care for a sick child through the night. Children reflect his love when they take their feeble parents to see the doctor. All of us show Jesus’ love when we care about and support one another.