Life In Abundance

This post appeared as a column in the Sunday, May 15, bulletin for St. Michael Catholic Church.

Last weekend, we saw all of our children and grandchildren, not to mention my mother and several friends, due to our youngest son Trevor’s star turns as St. Thomas More in the play, A Man for All Seasons. We had representatives of four generations of Thorps under our roof. We saw moving performances, illustrating a 500-year-old life that remains compelling and relevant today. We celebrated Good Shepherd Sunday and the May Crowning of Mary and Mother’s Day at the 9:00 AM Mass, with Father Park and Bishop Williams and two deacons. We received Jesus in Word and Sacrament—and my mom benefitted deeply from 10 minutes with two of our parish’s wonderful prayer ministers after Mass. We ate and drank and made merry. It was a both-and kind of weekend, a time of spiritual superabundance.

Early Monday morning, after Mom departed for the airport, I read the daily gospel reading, which continues St. John’s Good Shepherd discourse. The last line of the reading struck me hardest:

“A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

John 10:10

I recognize the thief and his works—I see them daily in the world—and I know that, at times like last weekend, we are experiencing God’s abundant life firsthand. The Enemy divides, distorts, and destroys; he is wreaking havoc in the world right now. But Jesus brings hope, courage, joy, and peace—not to mention the perseverance to live in the Spirit despite the Enemy and those who serve him.

When we feel distracted, dismayed, or despairing, we should perceive the Enemy’s hand at work and flee to our Heavenly Father and His Son. When we find ourselves immersed in the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, we should—to the best of our abilities and as far as God allows—remain there, with Him, in spirit at least.

I wanted the weekend to last, and I wanted all of you with me. Truly, I wished I could share the experience, but of course, it was none of my doing.

When we find ourselves near to God’s glory, we can be tempted to take credit ourselves, as though we’ve earned it, and become self-righteous. (I’ve been that man for many years.) But it is God who bestows the virtues of faith, hope, and charity on His poor children. It is He who first seeks us, who first loves us even when we are still sinners.

Nor may we look with enmity on those who deny God’s law, oppose His Church, or despise His followers, for they, too, are loved and sought by Him. We are not more deserving or desired than they, but we are better placed to pray for and evangelize them. We who know the shepherd’s voice—who enjoy abundant life in communion with God the Father—must share with those who do not. Because that’s what Jesus did.

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