| Shepherds of Christ
May 17, 2009
May 18th Holy Spirit
The Novena Rosary
Help us with the repairs on the Crucifix outside.
We need to sell a Crucifix a week.
Help us by - Buying a Crucifix!
Please come and buy a
and have it signed by Felix and
have your picture taken with him.
$820.00 with stand
The Crucifix needs work.
This is how it did look —
The church needs to have the stucco replaced
and also the community building.
It is about $38,000 to repair it.
People pray in the church 24 hours a day.
We have prayed in there for 11 years.
The archdiocese gave the church to us
for this purpose for a small price.
Can you help us?
Available for $10.00 plus postage
Available for $10.00 plus postage
May 17, 2009
Fr. Joe Robinson
April 5, 2009
Isaiah 50: 4-7
Lord Yahweh has given me
a disciple’s tongue,
for me to know how to give
a word of comfort to the weary.
Morning by morning
he makes my ear alert
to listen like a disciple.
Lord Yahweh has opened my ear
and I have not resisted,
I have not turned away.
I have offered my back
to those who struck me,
my cheeks to those
who plucked my beard;
I have not turned my face away
from insult and spitting.
Lord Yahweh comes to my help,
this is why insult has not touched me,
this is why I have set my face like flint
and know that I shall not
be put to shame.
Philippians 2: 6-11
Who, being in the form of God,
did not count equality with God
something to be grasped.
But he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
becoming as human beings are;
and being in every way
like a human being,
he was humbler yet,
even to accepting death,
death on a cross.
And for this God raised him high,
and gave him the name
which is above all other names;
so that all beings
in the heavens, on earth
and in the underworld,
should bend the knee at the name of Jesus
and that every tongue should acknowledge
Jesus Christ as Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Mark 11: 1-10
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, close by the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, 'Go to the village facing you, and as you enter it you will at once find a tethered colt that no one has yet ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, "What are you doing?" say, "The Master needs it and will send it back here at once." ' They went off and found a colt tethered near a door in the open street. As they untied it, some men standing there said, 'What are you doing, untying that colt?' They gave the answer Jesus had told them, and the men let them go. Then they took the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on its back, and he mounted it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others greenery which they had cut in the fields. And those who went in front and those who followed were all shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of David our father! Hosanna in the highest heavens!’ He entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple; and when he had surveyed it all, as it was late by now, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
HOMILY: A week’s events in the life of Jesus are compressed into one hour today, from the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to the Last Supper to Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion and burial. Throughout this week we will reflect on these important events in a less hurried way. If we could all get to liturgy on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, we would not need to hear the passion read today, but not everyone can get to church during the week, so we need to hear the passion today so we can celebrate Jesus’ resurrection next Sunday.
However, I would urge everyone to read the gospel again this week so you can reflect more deeply on Jesus’ sacrifice of himself for us. Every year I ask myself why he did it. Every year I think I understand it a little more and yet it will always remains a mystery. Jesus said he came “to seek out and to save the one who is lost.” Could he have done that without having to die? Maybe that’s what he agonized over in the garden of Gethsemani, asking himself and his heavenly Father the same question.
We too have our struggles to understand suffering. It’s amazing how many people want to blame suffering on God. We know it was part of Jesus’ mission and God’s plan. He prayed “not my will but thine be done.” When problems arise for us does it make sense to think this is God’s will for us? A lot of people do. For some it helps them cope with tragedy, while others turn their back on God and claim he is cruel and unfair. If we stop and think about life, so many problems we deal with we create for ourselves, or some other individual uses their God-given gift of free well in a way that damages us, or our problems come just because we’re human and we grow old and body parts begin to wear out. Or there are times when it’s a matter of bad luck, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We can’t always put our finger on why bad things happen, especially to good people, a question that philosophers and theologians have pondered over for centuries. I believe all good things come from God, but there are precious few of the bad things in life that I attribute to God’s will. I believe God came to save us from evil, even physical evil (that’s why Jesus healed people and why he told us to care about people who were suffering from not having the necessities of life). I don’t even know if God plans when he is going to call each of us to leave this world, but eventually it will happen. It’s part of our faith and comforting to know, however, that when it happens, if we have served him faithfully, God will take us to himself.
What keeps me going and helps me stay positive is to believe that when bad things happen that are beyond our control, God can turn them into something good. If God could take the death of Jesus, indeed a very evil thing in that we human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, crucified our God – even though he only helped people and loved people, if God could take that and turn it into something good and make it the source of our salvation and eternal life, then God has the power to turn anything around and make it into something good. Sometimes I ask, “God how are you going to bring something good out of this?” My faith is he can and he will and I believe it because I’ve experienced this all through my life.
Today we reflect on the mystery of suffering, Jesus’ suffering and our own. It’s not a problem to solve but a mystery we have to live with. Especially at Mass today, as at every Mass, we recall what Jesus did for us. We do, in his memory, what he commanded us. We are assured that in his sufferings he was there before us, he knows what it’s like and he will walk with us through bad times and will pull us through. Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. Amen.
April 12, 2009
Acts 10: 34, 37-43
Then Peter addressed them, ‘I now really understand’, he said, ‘that God has no favourites,
You know what happened all over Judaea, how Jesus of Nazareth began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil. Now we are witnesses to everything he did throughout the countryside of Judaea and in Jerusalem itself: and they killed him by hanging him on a tree, yet on the third day God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen, not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses that God had chosen beforehand. Now we are those witnesses—we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead— and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to bear witness that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.’
Colossians 3: 1-4
Since you have been raised up to be with Christ, you must look for the things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on things above, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed—and he is your life—you, too, will be revealed with him in glory.
John 20: 1-9
It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,' she said, 'and we don't know where they have put him.'
So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter, following him, also came up, went into the tomb, saw the linen cloths lying on the ground and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had still not understood the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
HOMILY: This funny story is old, but even if you’ve heard it before, you might enjoy it again. There was an old couple who argued a lot, and they decided to travel before they died. One place they wanted to see was Israel. While they were there, the wife died. When the husband tried to see what arrangements he could make for her funeral, the mortician told him she could be buried in Israel for $2,000 or they could send her body home to the United States, but it would cost $20,000 to transport her. He thought for a moment and said we’ll send her to the United States. A friend asked why he would spend so much money to send her back home. He said, “one time a person rose from the dead here in Israel and I can’t take that chance.”
Our faith tells us one person did indeed rise from the dead, Jesus Christ, and if it weren’t for his resurrection we would never have heard of him. He was a good and holy man who was a wise teacher and a powerful healer but, unlike with other religious leaders, if it weren’t for Jesus’ actual resurrection, his followers would never have had the courage to preach about him to the world. [for Sunday morning: Remember Peter who denied Christ. We hear him preaching with boldness to a pagan audience in today’s first reading.] The apostles had nothing to gain in this world from talking about him except rejection and martyrdom. But they had to proclaim him to the world because they had seen him after the resurrection, he sent them out to continue his work, he promised to be with them and they wanted to be with him and these things they couldn’t deny.
Their “good news” about the resurrection spread against all odds, persecution, heresy, sinful leadership and a way of life that demanded unselfishness and self-sacrifice. Their promise was a promise of new life, eternal life, to those who heard the “good news” and believed in it. Their promise was a promise of risen life for those who are born again into Christ’s life. We hear Paul proclaim this in today’s epistle: “we were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” (Rom 6,4 – from Vigil) This is echoed in our epistle for Easter Sunday from Colossians “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.” (Col 3,3-4 – Easter Sunday).
Our bodies will rise again on the last day, but not all will rise to glory. The bible tells us in the book of Daniel: “Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Dan. 12,2) It is not our place to decide which group certain of our acquaintances might end up in. We cannot judge anyone’s heart, only God can. It’s our place to know that we are saved, not by our own power, but through our union with the glorified and risen Christ and to find peace in knowing that God’s mercy is offered to all who seek him.
And that is the challenge of the resurrection. Again, quoting the letter to the Colossians: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” (Col. 3,1-2) If we want to live new life with Christ in eternity, we must live his new life now.
Hopefully, our Easter celebration will inspire us to leave today with a new resolve to praise the Lord (this is what “Alleluia” means) and to rejoice and be glad because this is the day the Lord has made; this is the day that is a source of hope and salvation for us. Amen.
Second Sunday of Easter
April 19, 2009
Acts 4: 32-35
The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, as everything they owned was held in common. The apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power, and they were all accorded great respect. None of their members was ever in want, as all those who owned land or houses would sell them, and bring the money from the sale of them, to present it to the apostles; it was then distributed to any who might be in need.
1 John 5: 1-6
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ
is a child of God,
and whoever loves the father
loves the son.
In this way we know
that we love God’s children,
when we love God
and keep his commandments.
This is what the love of God is:
keeping his commandments.
Nor are his commandments
because every child of God
overcomes the world.
And this is the victory
that has overcome the world—
Who can overcome the world
but the one who believes
that Jesus is the Son of God?
He it is who came by water and blood,
not with water alone
but with water and blood,
and it is the Spirit that bears witness,
for the Spirit is Truth.
John 20: 19-31
In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you,’ and, after saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
After saying this he breathed on them and said:
Receive the Holy Spirit.
If you forgive anyone’s sins,
they are forgiven;
if you retain anyone’s sins,
they are retained.
Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord,’ but he answered, ‘Unless I can see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving any more but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:
You believe because you can see me.
Blessed are those who have not seen
and yet believe.
There were many other signs that Jesus worked in the sight of the disciples, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.
INTRODUCTION: I’ve asked you to greet one another as Mass began in order to create a sense of community. This is an important theme in today’s Scriptures. People often ask me, for example: “who is that person who sits in such and such a place at the 10:00 Mass.” We have great people in our parish but most people do not know it. They just know a few close friends perhaps. It would be so easy when you are on the way to church or after Mass to just go up to someone you don’t know, put out your hand and say: “hello, I’m so and so. What’s your name?” If you forget it the next time you see them ask again. I do it all the time. The theme of community is expressed in today’s first reading by the care the early Christians had for one another. Unfortunately, this idyllic moment for the early Church did not last. There were those who tried to cheat on the system of sharing their possessions in common, there were defections from the community when persecutions came, there were heresies and there were those who broke away and began a church of their own. The unity Jesus prayed for so earnestly at the Last Supper was short-lived.
HOMILY: We heard about the early Christians’ love for one another. How they loved one another was one of the big attractions of the early Church. In today’s gospel, there is another very clear picture of how important community is. The apostles were gathered together on Easter Sunday night when Jesus appeared to them. But Thomas wasn’t with them. We’re not told why. Maybe he was daring enough to go out for food and supplies while the others huddled together in fear that the Roman soldiers or the Jewish religious leaders might come to get them next, maybe he was depressed and wanted to be left alone, maybe he just went out for a walk. For whatever reason Thomas missed getting to see Jesus. He was absent from the community. While all the other apostles as well as the women who had seen Jesus earlier in the day were excited about the resurrection, he must have had a miserable week. It’s interesting that it wasn’t until a week later when Jesus showed himself again. This second appearance is likely an indication, perhaps inspired by Jesus himself, that, from the beginning, the first day of the week was to be the day for the Christian assembly to gather together to celebrate and to participate in Jesus’ saving death and resurrection.
When Thomas was with the others Jesus appeared again. Thomas came to believe. This event shows us how hard it is to believe sometimes, and it also shows us how gathering with the faith community can help our own faith. We don’t know whether Thomas actually felt Jesus’ hands and side, but Thomas’ mind and heart moved beyond mere physical recognition to the most explicit profession of faith in Christ to be found in the Scriptures: “My lord and my God.” It is an expression we were taught to say to ourselves when the priest held up the host and the chalice at the consecration. I still say it in my mind. I wonder how many other people do.
Even the forgiveness of sins, a spiritual power which Christ entrusted to his apostles and which we hear about in today’s gospel, when it was officially administered sacramentally, was, originally, administered not privately, but was expressed as a reconciliation with the community. People who had sinned seriously were, in effect, excommunicated; they could not participate in the Mass or Communion and they had to do penance before they could officially rejoin the community. That’s the way the sacrament of reconciliation was performed in the first few hundred years of the Church’s history.
St. Paul tells us people who think they don’t need the Church are like a part of the body that says I don’t need the rest of the body. We need to be part of a faith community to be nourished spiritually. Jesus promised he would be with us when two or three are gathered together in his name. As he tells us in John 6, we especially need to meet him weekly in the Eucharist to be taught by him in the Scriptures and to be fed by his body and blood without which there is no life in us.
May our gathering together today help us experience his peace, recognize him in faith, unite us with him in love, and deepen our love for one another. Amen.
Third Sunday of Easter
April 26, 2009
Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19
It is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus whom you handed over and then disowned in the presence of Pilate after he had given his verdict to release him. It was you who accused the Holy and Upright One, you who demanded that a murderer should be released to you while you killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are witnesses;
‘Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing; but this was the way God carried out what he had foretold, when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer. Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out,
1 John 2: 1-5
My children, I am writing this
to prevent you from sinning;
but if anyone does sin,
we have an advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ, the upright.
He is the sacrifice to expiate our sins,
and not only ours,
but also those of the whole world.
In this way we know
that we have come to know him,
if we keep his commandments.
Whoever says, ‘I know him’
without keeping his commandments,
is a liar,
and truth has no place in him.
But anyone who does keep his word,
in such a one
God’s love truly reaches its perfection.
This is the proof
that we are in God.
Luke 24: 35-48
Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.
They were still talking about all this when he himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts stirring in your hearts? See by my hands and my feet that it is I myself. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and his feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, as they were dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.
Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, was destined to be fulfilled.’ He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.
INTRODUCTION: We take so many of our blessings for granted until, God forbid, we lose one. Take for example the ability to walk. We injure a knee or some part wears out and we find it painful or impossible to do many of the things we just took for granted. What if we were lame from birth and could never join in other kids’ games because we couldn’t run or walk. There used to be a sick joke about a kid like that who wanted to be on the local baseball team, so his buddies let him play and they used him for third base!
A very short time after Jesus’ ascension Peter and John were on their way to the Temple to pray. There was a lame man sitting at the Temple entrance. In that culture, it was bad enough to be handicapped, but a person like that was looked down upon because it was everyone’s belief that he must have been a great sinner and he was suffering for his sins. The lame man asked Peter and John for a little money as they passed. Peter said, “I don’t have any money, but I will give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk.” Then Peter helped him to his feet and he was healed. He was so excited, he jumped and danced and praised God. Of course, this created quite a commotion and everyone wondered what had happed. Peter took the opportunity to explain. He credits it all to Jesus. Today’s first reading is part of his explanation.
HOMILY: I’m sure most of us have had wonderful life-changing events we could talk about, getting a good job; meeting a wonderful person who changed our life, whether it was a teacher, a friend, or someone who eventually became our spouse; the birth of a dearly loved son or daughter; inheriting a large sum of money; finding a cure for a chronic illness. The lame man I talked about in my introduction, whose healing is described in the third chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, certainly had his life changed dramatically by this encounter with Peter and John.
Today we hear again about the Resurrection of Jesus. Easter is too big a feast to celebrate just one day. We celebrate it for fifty days, and then we continue to celebrate it every Sunday when we gather in faith to meet our risen Lord in the Eucharist. Our gospel today takes us back to Easter Sunday. In the afternoon of Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to two of his disciples. They were walking away from Jerusalem, discouraged and depressed over Jesus’ death. Jesus walked with them, talked to them about the Scriptures, and when he broke bread with them they recognized him. They came running back to the upper room to tell the others. When they got there, they were told Jesus had appeared to Peter and then suddenly Jesus appeared to all of them. In spite of the appearances in the early morning to the women, to the two disciples, and to Peter, Luke tells us the apostles were “terribly frightened.” I suppose that would be a normal reaction. Jesus assured them he was very much alive and very well. They could see him and touch him. To give them further proof, he asked for something to eat. He ate something they themselves had prepared to convince them he was real and that they weren’t seeing a ghost or seeing him was something out of their own imagination. I have to pause here to tell you something cute. I’ve told this before so pardon me for repeating it: A mother proudly told her pastor: “My teenage son has finally learned one bible verse. It’s Luke 24, verse 41 where Jesus says to his disciples: ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’”
Whatever wonderful life-changing events we might think of, the Resurrection of Jesus is the most wonderful life-changing event ever. Because Jesus rose from the dead, our world is a different world. Because Jesus rose from the dead, evil and hatred and suffering have been overpowered. They still hang around inflicting difficulties on us, but their power has been broken by the glory of the Resurrection. Because Jesus rose from the dead, death no longer has the last word over any of us. Death has been overcome by life, eternal life. Even sin will not win out, but forgiveness in Jesus’ name will destroy sin. Sin and evil will keep on trying to pull us down and destroy us, but in Christ we are raised up. We must be careful not to give in to sin’s destructiveness, John tells us in today’s second reading, and the way not to give in is to keep his commandments so his love can be perfected in us. Because Jesus rose from the dead, even fear cannot hold on to us for long, for Jesus came to us offering us peace. Notice that Jesus’ first word to the apostles was “peace.” Our world is a totally different world now after Jesus’ Resurrection. But if it continues to look the same to all of us, with evil and hatred and suffering, maybe we who have been changed by the resurrection are not doing what Jesus said to do. We heard him say at the end of today’s gospel: “you are witnesses of these things.” This world-changing event has happened and we hope to share in its blessings. It partly depends on us, however, to bring those blessings to the world around us through the witness of our lives, our goodness, our love, our peace and our joy. Let’s pause for a moment to ask ourselves how we can witness more fully the Resurrection. Amen.
Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 3, 2009
Acts 4: 8-12
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, addressed them, ‘Rulers of the people, and elders! If you are questioning us today about an act of kindness to a cripple and asking us how he was healed, you must know, all of you, and the whole people of Israel, that it is by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, and God raised from the dead, by this name and by no other that this man stands before you cured. This is the stone which you, the builders, rejected but which has become the cornerstone. Only in him is there salvation; for of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.’
1 John 3: 1-2
You must see what great love
the Father has lavished on us
by letting us be called God’s children—
which is what we are!
The reason why the world
does not acknowledge us
is that it did not acknowledge him.
My dear friends,
we are already God’s children,
but what we shall be in the future
has not yet been revealed.
We are well aware that when he appears
we shall be like him,
because we shall see him as he really is.
John 10: 10-18
The thief comes
only to steal and kill and destroy.
I have come
so that they may have life
and have it to the full.
I am the good shepherd:
the good shepherd lays down his life
for his sheep.
The hired man,
since he is not the shepherd
and the sheep do not belong to him,
abandons the sheep
as soon as he sees a wolf coming,
and runs away,
and then the wolf attacks
and scatters the sheep;
he runs away
because he is only a hired man
and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd;
I know my own
and my own know me,
just as the Father knows me
and I know the Father;
and I lay down my life for my sheep.
And there are other sheep I have
that are not of this fold,
and I must lead these too.
They too will listen to my voice,
and there will be only one flock,
The Father loves me,
because I lay down my life
in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me;
I lay it down of my own free will,
and as I have power to lay it down,
so I have power to take it up again;
and this is the command
I have received from my Father.
INTRODUCTION: Last week I spoke about how Peter and John healed a crippled beggar in the Temple. The healed man jumped up and down and was walking around which caused a great amount of commotion in the Temple. The people wanted to know what happened and how it had happened. Peter gave all the credit to Jesus who, in his risen presence, healed the man through the Apostles. When the Jewish religious leaders, many of whom did not believe in any kind of resurrection, heard Peter’s witness, they arrested Peter and John and took them to court. Today we hear a portion of Peter’s testimony. The important thing to notice is not only what Peter had to say about Jesus but also his boldness. The court didn’t know what to do with Peter and John because all the people were excited about the healing of a man who had been lame for over 40 years. So the court warned the Apostles not to talk about Jesus any more. The Apostles would not be intimidated, however, for they were now filled with the Holy Spirit. [Acts 4, 8-12]
HOMILY: Jesus tells us: “I am the good shepherd.” Today is often called Good Shepherd Sunday because every year on the fourth Sunday of Easter, we hear a passage from St. John’s 10th chapter [Jn. 10, 11-18] which is about Jesus as our shepherd.
Today Jesus tells us about two kinds of shepherds. There is the kind of shepherd who owns his or her own sheep and there are shepherds who are hired by a farmer to protect and care for sheep that belong to someone else. The second kind, the hired shepherds, run away when danger comes, while those who own their sheep fight hard to protect what is their own, sometimes getting hurt badly or even getting killed. Jesus is telling us he would be killed to protect and save us, but he would return to life again – which he did. This shows us, first of all, how much he cares for us. He would fight to the bitter end for us. It also shows us how powerful he is that he can lay down his life and take it up again. Peter tells us in today’s second reading that Jesus is the only one we can safely follow in order to be saved,.
Jesus tells us something else about shepherds today - they know their sheep and the sheep know their shepherds. It’s just the same way we know our pets at home. How do they know one another so well – because they spend a lot of time together. Sheep take a lot of care and the shepherd is with his or her sheep 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Jesus is with us all the time and knows us better than we know ourselves (all the hairs on our heads are numbered – do any of us know ourselves that well?) If we don’t know him very well, we need to spend more time with him; and that’s called prayer.
When I think of shepherds, I always remember 20 years ago when I climbed Mt. Sinai (I’m glad I did it then, because I couldn’t do it any more – it’s very rugged and steep) and on the way down, I saw a shepherd and her sheep on a near-by hill. It was just getting dark. She started playing her flute and headed in a direction away from where we were; the sheep just fell in line following her. It was all the sheep trusted her knew how much they depended on her. It was a beautiful scene.
The metaphor is obvious. Christ is our shepherd. He wants us to trust him and follow him. Sometimes following him can get a little frightening; we don’t know where he’s taking us or what he might ask of us. Sometimes when he takes us through the desert, as shepherds need to do at times when they want to bring their sheep to better grazing ground, we ask why is he doing this to us? That’s why he is always telling us we need to have faith in him. That’s also why we need to pray - so we will have faith in him. Amen.
Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 10, 2009
Acts 9: 26-31
When he got to Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him: they could not believe he was really a disciple. Barnabas, however, took charge of him, introduced him to the apostles, and explained how the Lord had appeared to him and spoken to him on his journey, and how he had preached fearlessly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. Saul now started to go round with them in Jerusalem, preaching fearlessly in the name of the Lord. But after he had spoken to the Hellenists and argued with them, they became determined to kill him. When the brothers got to know of this, they took him to Caesarea and sent him off from there to Tarsus.
The churches throughout Judaea, Galilee and Samaria were now left in peace, building themselves up and living in the fear of the Lord; encouraged by the Holy Spirit, they continued to grow.
1 John 3: 18-24
our love must be not just words
or mere talk,
but something active and genuine.
This will be the proof
that we belong to the truth,
and it will convince us in his presence,
even if our own feelings condemn us,
that God is greater than our feelings
and knows all things.
My dear friends,
if our own feelings do not condemn us,
we can be fearless before God,
and whatever we ask
we shall receive from him,
because we keep his commandments
and do what is acceptable to him.
His commandment is this,
that we should believe
in the name of his Son Jesus Christ
and that we should love one another
as he commanded us.
Whoever keeps his commandments
remains in God, and God in him.
And this is the proof
that he remains in us:
the Spirit that he has given us.
John 15: 1-8
I am the true vine,
and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that bears no fruit
he cuts away,
and every branch that does bear fruit
to make it bear even more.
You are clean already,
by means of the word
that I have spoken to you.
Remain in me, as I in you.
As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself,
unless it remains part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine,
you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, with me in him,
bears fruit in plenty;
for cut off from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
is thrown away like a branch
these branches are collected
and thrown on the fire
and are burnt.
If you remain in me
and my words remain in you,
you may ask for whatever you please
and you will get it.
It is to the glory of my Father
that you should bear much fruit
and be my disciples.
INTRODUCTION [Acts 9, 26-31; I John 3, 18-24; John 15, 1-8] Many of the Jews, because they were under Roman occupation, had two names - a Roman name and a Jewish name. Thus Paul also had the name Saul. Most of the time he is called Paul, but occasionally, as in today’s first reading, he is called Saul. You remember he was a zealous Pharisee and a fierce persecutor of all who believed in Christ. On one occasion, as he was on his way to Damascus to search out Christians and arrest them, Jesus appeared to him. He immediately discovered Christians had it right and what he was doing was entirely wrong. His life turned around completely and he began preaching and teaching about Jesus. Even after three years in and around Damascus, preaching that Jesus was the Son of God, the Christian community in Jerusalem was not convinced that he was for real. When he first showed up in Jerusalem, the disciples were afraid to trust him. Barnabas was a disciple they did trust and he testified that Paul was genuine. The Hellenists, in the first reading, were Greek speaking Jews who saw Paul as a traitor to Judaism.
HOMILY Happy Mothers’ Day to all our mothers. Friday we had May crowning and so the statue of Mary is still here to remind us of Mary, our spiritual mother, today too. On a Mother’s Day card, a six year-old girl wrote her Mother: “Dear Mom, I’m going to make lunch for you on Mother’s day. It’s going to be a surprise. P.S. I hope you like pizza and popcorn.”
In a recent comic strip, For Better or For Worse, Elly, a young mom, had a horrible day caring for her two toddlers who were sick. Looking for sympathy, Elly called her own mother looking for an understanding ear. She told her mom what a horrible 24 hours she had, getting up every half hour during the night and caring for her toddlers all day – first one, then the other. She said to her mom “you don’t even get a chance to think about yourself.” Then she added I guess you went through all this with me and my brother, didn’t you?” There was a pause, then Elly said to her mom, “Er, Mom…did we ever thank you?” “Thanks” is in order constantly, but especially today. Thank you mothers for your love and unselfish dedication and patience. Without you the world would come to a screeching halt.
Jesus is telling us today, without him, all of our lives would go nowhere. He tells us: “Without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither.” When we grow up and leave home, our love and our connection with our parents may remain with us, but we are really on our own. It can never be that way with Jesus. We need our Lord when we’re 60 or 70 as much as when we’re 6 or 7. We need him all the time. If we reflect deeply, we know there is a power greater than ourselves that we depend on and that we constantly need to sustain us. We are connected with that power through Jesus, the true vine.
The prophets, hundreds of years before Christ, used the vineyard as an image of Israel. Just as a farmer would cultivate his vineyard and care for it and expect to harvest grapes from it, so God would care for his people and expect good works from them: devout worship, obedience to his commandments, justice and love for the poor and vulnerable. Jesus is telling us today that through our union with him we are God’s people.
Jesus has tried to tell us that in many ways. I would like to mention just five statements where Jesus uses metaphors that tell us how important it is that we remain united with him. Notice each of these begins with the words: “I am.” Last Sunday we heard him tell us “I am the good shepherd.” “I am the light of the world.” “I am the bread of life.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” And the fifth one we heard today: “I am the true vine.” If we had time we could reflect upon how vital each of these items is: shepherds for sheep, light and food for us, the vine for one of its branches. Since vine and branches is the theme of today’s gospel, let us stay with that image for just another few minutes.
Quite simply, a vine is an organic structure that is nurtured by the rain and the sun; it is fed by the sap that flows through the stem and the branches; it grows and produces fruit. Jesus tells us he is the true vine, drawing life from the Father and communicating that life to all those who remain united with him. In other words there is a mysterious, living connection between each of us and Christ and a mysterious and living connection uniting us with one another through our union with Christ.
St. Paul used a similar metaphor when he wrote that we are the body of Christ. He tells us Christ is head of the body and we are the members. We are feet, hands, arms, legs, etc. through whom Christ lives in the world today. We are united with Christ and with each other through the Spirit. Pope Pius XII wrote an encyclical called the Mystical Body of Christ describing this union. This is not a connection we can examine under a microscope or test for in any other way, other than the test Jesus gave us when he said “by their fruits you will know them.” The way we live our lives shows whether we live in Christ or not.
Felix is at the site
Please come and get a
signed crucifix by
Felix and your picture
Betty is a handmaid who has prayed in the
China Church for 11 years. To get from her
house to the church she uses a walker and
must go over a creek and a little bridge.
We wanted a little place she could rest
by the Church. We need about $1,000 to
make this happen. Can you help us?
We are trying to get
Response to God's Love
and the Mass Book out.
Anybody who wants to help us
with a donation to get these 2 books
out in the Priestly/hierarchy mailing —
Please call Kathleen 1-888-211-3041
July 31, 1994
Words of Jesus to Members of
Shepherds of Christ Associates:
"My beloved priest-companion, I intend to use the priestly newsletter, Shepherds of Christ, and the movement, Shepherds of Christ Associates, in a powerful way for the renewal of My Church and the world.
"I will use the newsletter and the chapters of Shepherds of Christ Associates as a powerful instrument for spreading devotion to My Heart and My Mother's Heart.
"I am calling many to become members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. To all of them I will give great blessings. I will use them as instruments to help bring about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart and the reign of My Sacred Heart. I will give great graces to the members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. I will call them to be deeply united to My Heart and to Mary's Heart as I lead them ever closer to My Father in the Holy Spirit."
- Message from Jesus to Father Edward J. Carter, S.J., Founder, as given on July 31, 1994,
feast of Saint Ignatius Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits)
The China Church is over 140 years old
and we pray in there 24 hours a day.
It needs stucco and so does
the community building.
Can you please help us?
Call Kathleen 1-888-211-3041
which we have been doing.
We need $13,000.00 for this work.
You can help put the Blue Book V
in the hands of 1,000 people
we need $1,200 postage for this
It is ready to go
You can help put Fr. Joe's homily
book in the hands of
1,000 priests — it costs $1,100
This can help 1,000 parish priests
talk about Covenant for Lent
Please help us
It is ready to go
Call Kathleen 1-888-211-3041
Call Kathleen to Order any of the items below