Hold Fast to the Word

4th Sunday of Easter (C)

Congratulations to all of our students who are graduating this weekend. We will miss you all and keep you in our prayers as you embark on this next stage of your lives. Thank you for all that you have contributed to our ministry and our community during your time at WCU. The best parting words of wisdom I can offer you would be the same as the advice given by St. Paul to the Christians in Corinth, quoted in the first reading this past Tuesday for the Feast of the Apostles Philip and James.

I am reminding you, brothers and sisters, of the Gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

1 Cor 15:1-2

The word “tradition” comes from the Latin tradere, which means “to deliver” or “to hand on.” This is what the Apostles did; they handed on to others what they had received from Christ. Jesus told Philip, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9). He also told the Apostles, “Whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me” (Jn 13:20).

The Apostles encountered God through Christ. Others encountered Christ through the Apostles. That Apostolic ministry continues today through their successors. That is the Christian tradition. That is what it means to belong to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. That process of “handing on” the faith continues down to this day, and will continue until the Second Coming of Christ. We are all beneficiaries of this tradition — if we choose to be; if we persevere.

There are not many guarantees in life. After college, you may or may not get into the grad school of your choice. You may or may not get the job that you want. You may or may not end up marrying your college sweetheart. College graduates enter into a time of transition and you don’t always know where you will end up. But the one thing you can always be, if you choose it, is a Christian. No one can take that away from you. Christ’s love for you is absolutely certain. As long as you remain faithful, then no matter what else life throws your way, you will be assured of the fruits of salvation.

That is my hope for each and every one of you and for every student who passes through the doors of our ministry. Persevere. Hold fast to the faith you have received. Listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd.

Jesus’ words to us in this Sunday’s gospel reading are brief and powerful. I will end by quoting them in full.

My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.

John 10:27-30