May 7, 2017

Good Shepherd Sunday

May 7, 2017:
Good Shepherd Sunday
Fourth Sunday of Easter

See a dozen connections with today?
Legend below

For Psalm 23
For future Sundays
Pope Francis
Ordination homily:  The priesthood is not a career in the usual sense; it's not be lived as a path to advancement in the Church.  The Lord has chosen you for this service, not to make your own way.  Our Lord spoke simply and reached hearts; don't give homilies that are too intellectual or elaborate.  A priest who's studied theology and achieved advanced degrees but hasn't learned to carry the Cross is useless as a priest.
Be merciful; don't saddle the faithful with burdens they can't carry, and don't burden yourselves.  Jesus reproved the doctors of the law for this, calling them hypocrites.
Visit the sick!  Don't forget to touch the flesh of the suffering Christ in them; it sanctifies you and brings you closer to Christ.  Be joyful, never sad, with the joy of Christ’s service, even in the midst of suffering, misunderstanding, and your sins.  Have the example of the Good Shepherd before you; he came to serve, not to be served.  Be shepherds, pastors of God's people, not 'lords.'
Led by the Spirit for Mission (Vocations Day message)
We've considered the Christian's call to “go out from ourselves” to hear the Lord, and the importance of the Church as the privileged place where God’s call is born, nourished, and expressed.  Now I reflect on our calling's missionary dimension.  Those who follow Jesus discover a desire to bring the Good News to others through proclamation and works of charity.  Christians are called to be missionaries!  We can't keep the joy of God’s transforming love to ourselves.  We don't receive God’s love for our personal consolation or to promote ourselves.  The gospel joy that enlivens us is a missionary joy.
Commitment to mission is essential to faith.  We're sent out as prophets of his word and witnesses of his love.  We need to turn to God with confidence even when discouraged; we must overcome our sense of inadequacy.  Pessimism makes us passive spectators of a dreary, monotonous life.  There's no room for fear!  God cleanses us and equips us for mission:  “The Lord said, ‘Your sin is blotted out.  Who will go for us?’  I said, ‘Here am I; send me.’”
We hear God bidding them to “go about, doing good and healing.”  Every Christian is a “Christopher,” a Christ-bearer, especially priests and consecrated people.  Priests are called to go forth from the temple and to let God’s love overflow for the sake of humanity.  The Church needs priests who have discovered the true treasure and are eager to go make it known to all.
Good Shepherd/ Menon
We can respond to questions about being a missionary of the gospel by meditating on three scenes:  the inauguration of Jesus’ mission in the Nazareth synagogue, his journey in the company of the Emmaus disciples, and the parable of the sower.
Jesus is anointed by the Spirit and sent.  Missionary disciples share actively in Christ's mission:   “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, sent me to proclaim release to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to free the oppressed, and to proclaim the Lord’s favor.”  We're to be anointed by the Spirit and go proclaim the word and be a means of salvation, with Jesus at our side.  Questions and challenges can make us feel bewildered, inadequate, and hopeless.  Our mission might appear an illusion or beyond our reach, but if we contemplate the risen Jesus walking alongside the Emmaus disciples, we can be confident.  In that scene we have a “liturgy of the street,” preceding that of the word and the breaking of the bread.  Their hearts were broken, their hopes dashed, their dreams shattered; gospel joy had yielded to sadness.  But Jesus didn't judge them; he walked with them and gradually transformed their discouragement.  He made their hearts burn and opened their eyes by proclaiming the word and breaking bread.  Similarly, we realize, even amid weariness and misunderstanding, that Jesus walks, speaks, breathes, and works with us; we sense him alive with us in the midst of the missionary enterprise.
Jesus makes the seed grow.  We must let the Gospel teach us how to proclaim.  We can hunger for power, proselytism, or fanaticism, but the Gospel tells us to reject the idolatry of power, success, undue concern for structures, and the spirit of conquest.  The tiny seed of the Kingdom silently grows, thanks to God’s activity.  “The kingdom is as if a man scattered seed, and it sprouted and grew, he knows not how.”  We're confident because God surpasses our expectations, surprises us with generosity, and makes our efforts bear fruit.  Confident, we become open to the Spirit, the basis of mission.  Contemplative prayer is essential to mission; Christian life needs to be nourished by listening to God’s word and cultivating a personal relationship with the Lord in Eucharistic adoration.
I encourage this profound friendship with the Lord, to implore new vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.  God's People need to be guided by pastors serving the Gospel.  Don't yield to discouragement; keep praying that the Lord send workers.  May he give us priests who love the Gospel, living signs of God's love, close to their brothers and sisters.  We can regain fervor in preaching and can encourage people become disciples.  Though many consider faith as listless or a duty, people desire to discover the attraction of Jesus, be challenged by his words and actions, and cherish his ideal of fully human life happy to spend itself in love.  Through Mary's intercession, may we be given her openness of heart, readiness to respond to the Lord’s call, and joy in setting out to proclaim Jesus to the world.
Regina C┼ôli:  Pray the Rosary for peace, especially this month, as the Virgin of Fatima asked us to.
  • Acts 2:14a, 36-41  Peter:  “God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ.”  Cut to the heart, they asked, “What are we to do?” / “Repent and be baptized in Jesus' name for the forgiveness of your sins, and you'll receive the Spirit.”  He exhorted, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”  About 3,000 accepted his message and were baptized.
    Wordle: Readings 5-11-14
  • Ps 23:1-2a, 3b-6  "The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want."  He gives me repose, refreshment, guidance, courage, anointing, abundance, goodness, and kindness...
  • 1 Pt 2:20b-25  You're called to be patient when you suffer for doing good, as Christ suffered for you.  Insulted, he returned no insult; suffering, he handed himself over to the just judge.  He bore our sins so we may live for justice; by his wounds you've been healed.  You'd gone astray like sheep but have returned to the Shepherd.
  • Jn 10:1-10  “Whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd.  The sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own by name and leads them.  He walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice.  I am the gate.  Whoever enters through me will be saved and find pasture.  A thief comes to steal and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
      • Creighton:  Today we look at Jesus as the shepherd who cares for his sheep.  It's hard to be a shepherd.  Shepherds lay down their lives for their sheep, caring for them 24/7.  They travel with them, seeking fields for their food; they lead and watch over them.  At night they find a safe sleeping place.  Even when they're enclosed, they need to attend to the sheep.  Thieves can enter and steal sheep; shepherds need vigilance and sleep.  As a sheep enters, the shepherd examines it for wounds.  When all were inspected, he lies across the gate to sleep to keep sheep from straying outside.  No one can come in without alerting the shepherd.  Jesus identifies with both the shepherd and the gate.  As shepherd, he watches over us, keeping us nourished and safe; as gate, he cares for us as we pass through.  The Father sent him to embody God’s care for us.  We should watch for and receive God’s love, goodness, and care.  God is always on our side, here for us as the shepherd pours himself out for his sheep.  As God’s beloved, we inherit the goodness we're offered; may we discover it and pass it to others who call out to us to share the mercy and forgiveness the Shepherd showed us.
        Good Shepherd/ Plockhorst
      • One Bread, One Body:  "Walking through a minefield":  We don't have the experience of pasturing sheep to help us understand the image of the Good Shepherd, but we know our need to be "shepherded."  Shepherds guide the sheep.  We're on a rough, narrow road to eternal life, traveling through territory occupied by a "corrupt generation," a "culture of death."  As we walk through this "valley of... death," we suffer insults and persecution and are in danger of being slaughtered and destroyed, as if we're walking through a minefield, in danger of an explosion in our families, marriages, work, health....  We need guidance; we can't see mines below the surface. "I am the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep."
      •  "I came that they may have life abundantly":  The Old Testament speaks of God as shepherd of his people:  "The Lord is my shepherd."  "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel."  "We are the sheep of his pasture."  The Messiah is pictured as the shepherd of God's people:  "He will feed his flock like a shepherd."  Jesus is the Good Shepherd who will risk his life for the stray sheep; he is our Shepherd and Guardian.
      At day's end shepherds brought their sheep into shelter.  Sheep know their shepherd's voice and come at his call.  Each is called by name.  In winter sheep were brought to a communal shelter a guardian kept secure; in summer they were kept in fields then gathered at night into a fold guarded by a shepherd, the door they had to pass through.
      Christ as the Good Shepherd
      Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna
      God is a shepherd who brings his people security and peace.  "The Lord will keep your going and your coming forever."  Leaders are called shepherds:  they'll lead them out and bring them in, that the Lord's people not be as sheep without a shepherd.  As a shepherd watches and protects his sheep, so Jesus watches us as our Shepherd and Guardian.  Jesus laid down his life for his sheep, that he might change his body and blood into food, and nourish the sheep he redeemed.  He showed us the way.  We must use our goods in mercy for his sheep's needs, even giving our life. (St. Augustine, Homilies on the Gospel of John, tractate 46, paraphrased).
      Dress legend
        Good Shepherd/ Ruppert
      • 'Crucifix' tie pin:  God made this Jesus you crucified both Lord and Christ (1st reading); He bore our sins in his body on the cross (2nd reading)
      • 'Heart' pin:  They were cut to the heart (1st reading)
      • '?' tie pin:  "What are we to do?"  (1st reading)
      • 'Dove' pin:  "You'll receive the Holy Spirit" (1st reading)
      • 'Abacus' tie pin:  "About 3,000 were 'added' that day" (1st reading)
      • 'Castle' button:  "I'll dwell in the Lord's house" (psalm)
      • 'Sheep' tie bar:  You had gone astray like sheep (2nd reading); the sheep hear the shepherd's voice and follow him (gospel)
      • 'Phone' tie bar:  Respond to God's 'call'; pray for vocations.
      • Green and white shirt, white socks:  Verdant pastures (psalm); Easter season

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