April 22, 2018

Good Shepherd Sun.

April 22, 2018:  Fourth Sunday of Easter
Good Shepherd Sunday

See a dozen connections with today?Legend below
For Psalm 23 (apropos though not one of today's readings)
For Psalm 118 (today's actual psalm)
From Ed Bolduc's blog
For future Sundays...

Pope Francis 

To new priests:  Don't tire of being merciful.  Think of your sins that Jesus has pardoned.  May your teaching nourish God's People and your life be joy and support to the faithful.  May your word and example edify the Church.  Be intent on pleasing God alone, rather than yourself or others, or seeking other interests.  Be concerned only with service to God, for the good of the faithful.
World Day of Vocations messageGod's call to joy is at the center of our life; it's God’s plan for people in every age.  Our life and our presence in this world are the fruit of a divine vocation!  God-with-us continually comes to encounter us, walking along the often dusty paths of our lives.  He knows our longing for love and calls us to joy.  Each of us needs to listen, discern and live God's call to us, develop our talents, and be instruments of salvation.  Listening, discerning, and living were also present at the start of Jesus’ own mission:  he listened to the word, discerned the content of the mission the Father entrusted to him, and proclaimed that he came to accomplish it.
Listen:  We can't hear the Lord as clearly as other things in our daily experience; he comes silently and discreetly; our worries can drown him out.  We need to learn to listen to him and the story of his life and to be attentive to the details of our own lives, to learn how to see with the eyes of faith and stay open to the Spirit.  We'll never hear God's special, personal call if we stay enclosed in our routine, in our own little world, in apathy; we'd lose the chance to dream and to play our part in the story God wants to write with us.  Jesus was called and sent; he needed silence to listen to and read the word in the synagogue and reveal its meaning, with reference to himself and the history of Israel.
Our noise-filled society bombarded by information makes listening harder, and inner confusion often accompanies the outer noise.  This prevents us from enjoying contemplation, reflecting on events of our lives, working confident in God’s plan, and discerning fruitfully.  God's kingdom comes quietly and unobtrusively; we can only gather its seeds when we're open to the whisper of the divine breeze.
Discern:  When Jesus read from Isaiah, he discerned his mission and presented it to those who awaited the Messiah:  "to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, let the oppressed go free, and proclaim the Lord’s favor."  We can only discover our vocation through discernment, in dialogue with the Lord, listening to the Spirit.
Christian vocation always has a prophetic dimension.  The prophets were sent to the people in situations of insecurity and crisis to address God’s message of conversion, hope, and consolation.  Prophets discern events in the light of God's promise, unsettle the false tranquility of consciences that forget the Lord's word, and enable people to see dawn amid dark shadows.  We need discernment and prophecy.  We must resist the temptations of ideology and negativity and discover how God calls us.  We ought to grow in the ability to “read within” our lives and understand what the Lord is calling us to, so we may carry out our mission.
Live:  Jesus announced the newness of the present; it enthused many but hardened others' hearts.  He's the is the Messiah anointed to liberate prisoners, restore sight, and proclaim God's love.  “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled....”  Gospel joy won't abide slowness and sloth; it won't fill us if we keep waiting for the right time, without accepting the risk of making a decision today.  Vocation is today!  Our mission is now!  Each one of us is called–whether to marriage, ordained ministry, or special consecration–to become a witness of the Lord, now.  God continues to “come down” to save our human family and make us sharers in his mission.  He calls others to follow him in a close relationship.  Don't be afraid if he calls you to consecrate yourself totally to his kingdom!  It's beautiful, and a great grace.
Don't wait to be perfect to answer the Lord's call, or fear your limitations and sins; open your heart to the Lord.  Listen, discern your mission, and live it today.  May Mary, who heard, accepted, and experienced God's Word made flesh, protect us and accompany us always.  Full text

To Italian pilgrims
The memory of Popes Pius VI and Pius VII lead us to reflect on the path of evangelization and missionary goals.  Continue on this path, proclaim the Gospel, and witness it with works.  Christians are leaven of love, fraternity, and hope with daily gestures.  Small gestures can do much good.  Sharing the word and celebrating the Eucharist together fosters fraternity and makes us a holy and missionary community.  The Eucharist makes the Church, brings it together, and unites it in love and hope.
Open your heart to an encounter with Jesus Christ.  This mission is a responsibility, a joy, a heritage of salvation, and a gift to share; it requires availability, self-denial, and abandonment to God's will, journeying in holiness to respond to the Jesus' call, according to our own charism.
Gaudete et exsultate nugget:  An often overlooked Church teaching:  We're justified not by our own works or efforts but by God's grace.  God pours into us the source of his gifts even before we enter into battle [John Chrysostom].  The faithful glory in God alone, for “they realize they lack true justice and are justified only through faith” [Basil, Homily on humility].
Nothing human can demand, merit, or buy grace, and cooperation with it is itself from grace:  “Even the desire to be cleansed comes about through the Spirit” [2nd Synod of Orange 4].  “Nothing that precedes justification, neither faith nor works, merits the grace of justification; for ‘if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise, grace would no longer be grace’” [Trent re justification].

Grace “surpasses the power of intellect and will” [ibid.] and we have no right to merit; between God and us there's an immeasurable inequality [ibid.].  We can't buy his friendship with works; it's from his loving initiative.  This invites us to live in gratitude, since “after one has grace, the grace... can't come under merit” [ST I-II q114 a5].  The saints didn't trust in their own works:  “I'll appear before you empty-handed; I don't ask you to count my works.  All our justices have stains in your sight” [Thérèse, Offering to Merciful Love].

This truth should affect how we live, for it flows from the Gospel and demands that we make it a source of contagious joy.  We can't celebrate the Lord’s friendship unless we realize our life and abilities are his gift.  We need “to acknowledge jubilantly that our life is essentially a gift, our freedom a grace.  This is not easy....” [Lucio Gera]

Only when we accept and receive God’s gift can we cooperate by our efforts in our transformation [Catechism].  We must first belong to God, offering ourselves to him and entrusting our abilities, efforts, struggles, and creativity to him, so his gift may grow and develop in us:  “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.”  Charity alone makes growth in the life of grace possible:  “If I don't have love, I'm nothing.” [52-56]
    Good Shepherd/ Plockhorst
  • Acts 4:8-12  Spirit-filled Peter:  “This man was healed in the name of Jesus Christ whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.  He's the stone you rejected that's become the cornerstone.  There's no salvation through anyone else.”
  • Ps 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28-29  "The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone."  Give thanks to the Lord; his mercy endures forever.  Take refuge in the Lord.  You answered and saved me.
  • 1 Jn 3:1-2  See what love the Father bestowed on us, that we may be called his children.  The world doesn't know us because it didn't know him.  We're God’s children now, and we'll be like him, for we'll see him as he is.
  • Jn 10:11-18  “I am the good shepherd.  A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  A hired man who sees a wolf leaves the sheep and runs away because he has no concern for the sheep.  I know mine and mine know me.   I must also lead sheep not of this fold; they'll hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd....
  • Creighton:  In Peter's response to questions about the cripple's healing at the temple gate, he focused the leaders' attention not on the deed but that it was done in the name of Jesus, the only Savior.  When we're praised for a job well done, do we take the credit, deflect it to our mentors or teammates, or give praise to our Lord?  When we humble ourselves and give God the praise, it reinforces his presence and guidance in our lives and that the good we try to do is not for our own gain, but for God's glory.  We may be stones the builders rejected, but by our actions we can become cornerstones of God’s church.
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Fill up":  At the first Christian Pentecost, "all were filled with the Spirit."  After Peter and John were released from prison, the first Christian community gathered to pray, and "the place where they were gathered shook as they prayed. They were filled with the Spirit."  Stephen was "filled with faith and the Spirit."  Barnabas was "filled with the Spirit and faith."  "Be filled with the Spirit."  We need to be filled with the Spirit because we may have rationed our reception of the Spirit due to sin, fear, or ignorance; or quenched or grieved the Spirit through sin and selfishness.  The Spirit can change us from petty, narrow, and self-centered to big-hearted and great-souled.  "Receive the Spirit."  "Stir into flame the gift of God:  a Spirit that makes us strong, loving, and wise."
    Good Shepherd/ Ruppert
  • Passionist:  The Good Shepherd image is about the intimate relationship between Jesus and his followers.  We know each other well, call each other by name, feel safe with one another, protect one another, know each other’s voices, and respond almost automatically.  No force can break the bond.  Jesus is the cornerstone of our relationship; all rests on and in him.  The relationship rests on the sacrifice of the cross and the glory of the Resurrection.  “We are God’s children,” loved beyond our imagination.  Does this describe my relationship with the Lord?
  • DailyScripture.net:  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 shepherd:  "He will feed his flock like a shepherd."  Jesus says he is the Good Shepherd who will risk his life to seek out and save the stray; he's the "Shepherd and Guardian of our souls."
"Jesus shows in what manner a shepherd may be proved good and teaches he must be prepared to give his life defending his sheep.  We departed from God's love, fell into sin, and so were excluded from paradise, and became wolves' prey, but Christ the True Shepherd laid down his life for us, bearing the Cross to destroy death....  He died for us as truly Good, and truly our Shepherd, driving away death so he might join us to the blessed in heaven and grant us mansions in his Father’s house.  He tells us, 'Fear not, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you a kingdom.'" (Cyril of Alexandria)
Dress legend
  • 'Dove' pin:  Peter was filled with the Spirit (1st reading)
  • 'Stone' tie pin:  Jesus, the stone you rejected that's become the cornerstone (1st reading, psalm)
  • 'Boundless mercy' pin:  The Lord's mercy endures forever (psalm)
  • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  It's wonderful in our eyes (psalm); See what love the Father gave us; we'll see God as he is (2nd reading); hirelings who see a wolf coming leave the sheep (gospel)
  • 'Heart' pin:  What love the Father has bestowed on us (2nd reading)
  • 'Good Shepherd' tie:  "I am the good shepherd..." (gospel)
  • 'Sheep' tie bar:  ...who lays down his life for the sheep (gospel)
  • White shirt and socks:  Easter season
  • 'Phone' tie bar:  Respond to God's 'call'; pray for vocations.

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