HOMILY – 4 EASTER [B] 2018                                        [John 10:11-18]

Three years ago, the cover story in National Geographic magazine named Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as “the most powerful woman in history”.  Most Christians would agree with that, but why would an international non-religious publication that draws subscriptions and sponsorship from the general public support such a claim?

It was Mary’s enduring influence in history, her universal appeal across diverse cultures, and the fact that she is the hope and comfort of so many people, including Muslims.  The Muslim appreciation of Mary caused the writer to propose that Mary is an ideal “bridge that ought to be explored” as the world struggles against the reality of extreme terror.

An endorsement for this view of Mary came last week when Pope Francis published his fourth major document, this one on holiness.  Titled, “Rejoice And Be Glad”, he hopes his words will renew in the whole Church the desire to become holy.  The Pope turns to Mary as the supreme model who “rejoiced in the presence of God, who treasured everything in her heart, and who let herself be pierced by the sword… She teaches us the way of holiness as she walks ever at our side.  She does not let us remain fallen and at times she takes us into her arms without judging us.” [GJ 177]

Rejoice and be Glad reminds us of the universal call to holiness, and today, Good Shepherd or Vocations Sunday, this timely announcement should shake each one of us to a conscious awareness that our primary goal or purpose in life is, in the words of Jesus, to become holy “as the Father is holy.” [

Don’t think holiness is an impossible dream or just for saints.  It is very reachable.  The road to holiness starts with an openness to love, and love grows with small steps.  Being on the lookout for ways of helping, for offering a little extra, going out of your way – these are stepping stones to holiness available to everybody.

Pope Francis points to some of the moments in the gospel story where by noticing a little detail a big difference was able to be made: the little detail that wine was running out at a party; that one sheep was missing.  Mary’s visit to be with her older cousin, Elizabeth, despite her own pregnancy and the difficult journey into the hill country – generous, loving human actions, no different from ones we can do ourselves – all steps to holiness.

Draw strength from our Eucharist to live your vocation to holiness this week, being alert to details as you walk through each day.  Walk alongside Mary, the most powerful woman in history.  Take her hand and follow her example of kindness.

The American author, Mark Twain, wrote, Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see!  Kindness is the language of holiness.  Speak it from your heart in everything you do.