Good Shepherd today

One of the many dynamics of the readings of this 4th Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday, is: what is our part in the Shepherd’s mission?  I think we tend to overlook this aspect because of the richness of the readings on Christ being the Good Shepherd and the love He has for all of us.  But as we see in the first reading, Peter is being questioned by authorities for his healing the cripple.  Peter, of course, answers, not with what he did, but who really did it – Christ.  But still it was Peter who was the conduit of Christ’s graces – Peter was the proxy, so to speak, for the Good Shepherd.  It was Peter who continues the actions of the Good Shepherd on earth, as do all the apostles.  But, even with such miraculous achievements those in society still didn’t understand.  And what does all of this mean to us?

The entrance antiphon for today’s mass proclaims: ‘The merciful love of the Lord fills the earth; by the word of the Lord the heavens were made, alleluia.’ But, in reflecting on this antiphon, at least for me, a question arises; where do people find this merciful love?  Where does God’s love manifest itself?

I understand that mankind can come to know the presence of God through creation – St. Paul tells us as much; but only come to know, not understand, or participate – just be aware.  And truth be told, I am not sure mankind still has the capacity to admit this; to acknowledge the presence of God through creation.  We have become very, very good at denying that we are not the supreme event, the top beings in creation.  Our scientific capabilities and our desire for unaccountability has blinded society from the transcendent truth, indeed we have gotten very good at convincing ourselves there isn’t such a thing.

But in spite of society’s love affair with itself, there is still, deep within most, a hunger for the truth.  There is still an ember of desire for finding the peace that comes with being whole – not sated but whole.  There is still an emptiness that needs to be filled.

So I ask again: Where do people find this merciful love?   And of course, the answer is all around us – Christ, through us.  Within His mystical body Christ spreads this merciful love.  Within His faithful the path to wholeness is found. By our tender witness of God’s graces the lost sheep are led to the protection of their shepherd’s embrace.  By embracing those we meet we all find the peace of belonging – the joy of coming home.  Or as today’s Collect so beautifully put it: “we are led to a share in the joys of heaven.”

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Never the Same

The gospels of today and last week give an undeniable declaration that God has acted for us; He has done for us what we can’t do for ourselves.  And more than that – He has entered history to do it.  For anyone who might have thought that God performed His miracle of redemption outside of this reality – that God just sort of ‘used’ Jesus – well – this mindset has been proven wrong.

Jesus Christ, born of Mary, born as a true man, has appeared after His resurrection; proving that He is something more than just man. That He appeared suddenly inside a locked room, showing us His wounds of love resounds that He is true God, a God who loves us.

And what this means to us is that from that moment on history was never the same.  No more does mankind, even God’s chosen ones, wander through time looking for a reason, a path, a meaning for God’s plan.  We have been given the answer for all these questions and concerns.  We understand the path of history through the lens of God’s love and truth.  Ours is to follow this path with these lenses; ours is to continue the witness that Christ reminded his apostles of in today’s gospel.

If this seems a hard task, well it might help to remember that this message of Christ, this historical action of His isn’t growing fainter with each passing day.  It is ever fresh, always new.  Every time a Mass is offered Christ’s passion, death, resurrection is occurring within history.  Every time we participate in Mass we are in that upper room and realizing that God loved us so much He entered time to personally save each of us.  And every time we are being told by Christ that we: “are witnesses of these things.

My prayer for each of us is that we keep this meeting in the locked upper room, in our minds every time we hear the words of dismal “Go and announce the Gospel of Lord.

Light!

Alleluia!

It was just 100 days (or so) ago that we celebrated the birth of our Lord.  100 days ago that we sat in a ‘shadowed’ church and awaited midnight, awaited the proclamation of the birth of Christ.  It was 100 days ago that our church burst into light in celebration of God among us. And today, today we see where that light came from; we see that we need no other light than that which comes from that little babe of 100 days ago.  Jesus Christ the eternal son, God from God, light from light, is what illuminated the manager; illuminates our church and our life.  He brings this light with Him for He is light itself, He is the eternal Sun of the Father as well.  It is said that the shadow of Cross falls back on the Manger.  Indeed the shadow of the Cross falls on the whole liturgical year.  But, there wouldn’t be a shadow of the Cross if it wasn’t for the light of the Resurrection!  All that we do as Catholics, all that we do within our liturgical year is lit by the light of Easter.  And this light from Easter? It is the Hope that He gives us – the resurrection light that brightens our souls with the knowledge that this life on earth isn’t the reason for our existence – heaven is the reason for our existence.  It is the light of Love.

In the millennia since that Resurrection day the church has always looked to the dawn; looked to the rising of the cosmic sun as the reminder of the eternal Son’s light renewing in us this gift of hope. Every day we see the end of night and the brightness of dawn.  May we take the time every morning to remember what this eternal light of the resurrection means to us – this gift of hope.  Darkness has no power over those who welcome the light given to us by that little babe of 100 days ago.

Alleluia!