Monthly Archives: April 2010

Jesus the Good Shepherd

“Without the priestly ministry, there will be no Eucharist. Without the Eucharist there will be no missions and without the missions, there will be no Church”. – Pope Benedict XVI

The TV is my shepherd I shall not want,
It makes me to lie down on the sofa.
It leads me away from the faith,
It destroys my soul.
It leads me to the path of sex and violence for the advertiser’s sake.
Even though I walk in the shadow of Christian responsibilities,
There will be no interruption, for the TV is with me.
Its cable and remote control, they comfort me
It prepares a commercial for me in the midst of my worldliness
And anoints my head with secular humanism and consumerism.
My covetousness runs over;
Surely ignorance and laziness shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of wretchedness watching TV forever.

(I heard this parody on Psalm 23 in a homily broadcast on EWTN on March 18 2002)

What a dreadful way to live, living in a way that leads to death. But there is another way to live:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
He refreshes my soul.

He guides me in right paths
For his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage. (Ps 23:1-4)

That is a beautiful way to live, a way that leads to life, peace and true happiness. Jesus in the Gospel today tells us that he came precisely so that may live with that life, peace and happiness described in Psalm 23,

I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

As we listen to these words of Jesus in today’s Gospel they take on added meaning because we are in the Easter season. We have celebrated Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus had to die to himself to live his new life. Jesus has shown us how to live life to the fullest, we must die to ourselves in order to rise to new life. Our secularized world thinks it has the answer to our needs but what it offers only leads us into deeper despair. As that parody on Psalm 23 states,

It destroys my soul.
It leads me to the path of sex and violence for the advertiser’s sake…
And I shall dwell in the house of wretchedness watching TV forever.

We could apply the following words of Jesus today to the false notions of happiness offered to us by the world today,

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. (John 10:10)

Only dying to ourselves as we follow Jesus will lead us to the happiness we seek. Jesus teaches us that the way to happiness lies not in filling up each of our wants and needs and desires. The way to happiness lies in a very different choice of life; the way to happiness may be found in sacrificing and taking up our cross with Jesus, reproducing the life of Jesus in our own lives. And so Jesus says,

I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: he will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture… (John 10:9)

I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Pope John Paul encouraged people many times to find life to the full by following Jesus as he said words like this, “Do not be afraid to open the doors to Christ…” In Palestine the shepherd brought the sheep into the sheepfold every night. It was a circular stone wall with an opening or door where the sheep entered. Once the sheep were inside for the night the shepherd slept in that opening or door all night. The sheep could not get out without stepping over the shepherd’s body which meant they would not get out at all during the night. Jesus is the gate, anyone who enters through him will be safe, and will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture. Others steal and kill and destroy but Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

As we contemplate Jesus the Good Shepherd today Pope John Paul II declared the fourth Sunday of Easter a Day of Prayer for Vocations. We pray that many may listen to the voice of Jesus as he calls, that they may enter the sheepfold through him and be safe and have life and live it to the fullest.

http://www.frtommylane.com/homilies/year_a/easter4.htm

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Third Sunday of Easter: The Apostle Peter Teaches Us Lessons From Failure

Peter teaches us that failure is an opportunity to love better and stronger.  By beginning again and again, failure is an opportunity to love God and neighbor even more.  When you can truly love, you will never fear failure and sin, because failure and sin become opportunities to love even more intensely.

Every sin is a failure.  However, there is a lot that we can learn every time we say no to the Lord.  Every moment of sin is a moment to love more.  During the Last Supper, Peter assured the Lord of his love.  Nevertheless, Jesus predicted that he would deny him three times.

Sometimes pride causes us to sin.  We feel confident that we can handle certain situations.  Pride can even blind us from the memory of past experiences, and we fall in the same hole over and over again.

In this Sunday’s gospel narrative, Jesus asks Peter three times if he really does love him.  The triple profession of love that Peter makes after the Resurrection overcomes his threefold denial before the Passion.

When Peter denied the Lord, the Scriptures tell us that he went away and wept bitterly.  Through repentance and compunction, Peter was able to mistrust his own abilities and put his trust entirely in the Lord.  He discovered that left to his own abilities, he would continue to fall.  However, united to the power of God’s grace, he could overcome himself and persevere in fidelity.

There must be a reason why Jesus chose Peter to be the head of his Apostles.  He trusted Peter and knew that he would return loving even more.  Perfect people do not exist.  God always chooses the weak in order to bring about great tasks.  People who recognize their weaknesses, sinfulness and limitations are humble.  Humility allows them to rely on God’s grace and not on their own capabilities.  The arrogant do not allow God to work in their lives, or through them, in the lives of others.

“Peter, do you love me”?  Peter was asked this question three times.  Three times Peter assured the Lord that he loved him, and three times Peter was commissioned to show his love by feeding the flock.  This reminds us that love is not comprised of empty promises.  Love is made manifest in giving ourselves to others.

Easter is all about the new way of life called Christianity.  Feeding lambs and feeding sheep means that because of Jesus, we no longer can live for ourselves.   We need to be kind to each other, affirm and encourage one another, serve and forgive one another.

Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.  Many of the greatest saints of the Catholic Church were at one time great sinners.  Simply consider the sins of David, Magdalen, Paul and Augustine.  Nevertheless, they, like many others, were able to turn their lives around and love even more.

This Sunday’s gospel passage reminds us that our own personal sin is never the end of the story.  Every day God gives us a blank piece of paper to write the history of a new day.

“Peter, do you love me?”  Jesus asks us the same question: Do you love me?  Every day, we have many moments to show Jesus how much we really do love him.

“Peter, do you love me more than these?”  Do you love me more than your possessions?  Do you love me more than your money?  Do you love me more than your house?  Do you love me more than your spouse, your children, your mother and your father?  Do you really love me more than yourself?

Unless we are able to go into the desert, which is a terrible and difficult journey, we will never experience true love.  And why is this true?  This is true because in order to really love the way Jesus call us to love, we must truly die to ourselves.  Only those who are free from any attachment, any obsession and any addiction can truly love.   When you really die to yourself, love possesses you.  When you can truly love, you will never fear failure and sin, because failure and sin become opportunities to love even more intensely.

For all those who call themselves disciples of Jesus, failure is an opportunity to love better and stronger.  By beginning again and again, failure is an opportunity to love God and neighbor even more.

http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=36196