The vioce of the Good Sheherd

 

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 4: 8-12

I John 3:1-2

John 10: 11-18

 

There were a husband and wife who had coffee together every morning. The husband would prepare the coffee, he would pull his chair up, so he could look at his wife, and they would talk. Their conversation would cover many topics, and it was always good, it was their way of beginning the day. There is nothing unusual about making coffee, pulling up a chair and talking to your loved one. What makes this unusual is the wife of 64 years has been gone for over two years, and this loving husband has continued the ritual of making the coffee, pulling up a chair, and talking to his wife who is buried in our cemetery. It does not matter if it is raining, snowing, blowing, or sunshine, this man continues this morning ritual. This act of love is what being a “good shepherd” is about.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus gives us three things to do so all of us will be a “Good Shepherd.” The first thing Jesus says is, “I am the good shepherd, and I lay down my life for my sheep.” Jesus repeats this four more times because he means it. It is not to be taken lightly, and it is not for the faint of heart. The good shepherd never gives up on the sheep and is present to the sheep through all the difficult times of life.

 

Secondly, Jesus says, “I know my sheep, and my sheep know me.” Membership into the flock of Jesus is based solely on hearing the voice of the shepherd. In ancient times when possible shepherds would come together in the evening and put their sheep into a sheep gate. The sheep gate would be a wall that would be built out of stone in a circle to keep all the sheep safe from predators or thieves. In the morning the shepherds would call their sheep, and they would rejoin their shepherd.

 

The last thing Jesus tells us is this relationship that the shepherd has with his sheep, and the sheep have with their shepherd is all because there are others who will see that and want to be part of that flock.

 

The challenge for all of us is how we can be a better good shepherd to the sheep that God has given us? All you who are married. Will you lay your life down for your spouse, by listening to each other more intently? May we not forget your children are watching? Children, how can you be better shepherds by listening and obeying your mother and fathers? Anyone who is single, you also have lots of opportunities to be good shepherds by being a person who is holy and reflects the teachings of the church. 

 

My friends in Christ to be a good shepherd takes courage. Let us always hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, leading us to holiness and faithfulness! May we also be good shepherds to those God has entrusted to us!   

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How will we particpate in the will of God?

 

Third Week Easter Weekday Friday

Acts 9: 1-20

John 6: 52-59

 

Invite 3 to 5 students to come forward and form a circle. I give one student the ball of string and ask them to toss it to another student while holding onto the end of the string. When that student catches the ball of string, they hang onto their end and toss the ball of string to someone else. Toss the ball of the string until every student is hanging onto the string.

When every student is hanging onto the string, have one student let go and ask the rest of the students to keep the string tight. Ask another student to drop their string, and again ask the remaining students to keep the string tight.

 

What happened as each student dropped their piece of string?

Answer – the students who remained had to step back to keep the string from falling to the ground.

 

Our little experiment shows for us that each of us has a special role in God’s plan. When we participate in God’s plan, we can do great things. When we let go of God’s plan, then others have to pick up the slack and do what we could not do.

 

In our first reading, both Saul and Ananias had to participate in God’s plan for it to come about. Ananias was afraid to go to Saul because it was Saul who was persecuting and killing people who believed in Jesus Christ. Saul had to allow someone he did not know to come to him while he was blind and heal him.

 

We gather in this Eucharist as a community to hold onto the life giving will of God. May we be strengthen to hold on and to do the will of God and great things can happen.  

 

What food will we reach for today?

 

Third Week of Easter Thursday

Acts 8: 26-40

John 6: 44-51

 

We are what we eat! It is a simple statement with profound outcomes. I am always trying to lose weight, and sometimes my determination and will are strong enough, and other times, I have to eat a dozen cookies. However, “We are what we eat” is not just a physical thing but it is also a spiritual thing. What we put into our heart through our eyes, ears, and thoughts has a deep effect on eating the right foods that will help us grow in holiness. 

 

In our first reading, we see the power of eating and devouring the right things as Philip encounters an Ethiopian man who is reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asks him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man replies, “How can I understand unless someone instructs me?” Philip helps him to understand what he is reading, and then Philip baptizes the man. This man hungered for so much more in his life, and Philip helped him come to know the Lord.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus hungers to give the people a spiritual truth that they should never forget. Jesus tells the crowd, “I am the living bread that comes down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

 

Every day we choose the food we will eat. Every day we choose the food we will feed others. There seems to be something in us that both wants the bread that endures and the bread that perishes. When I choose the wrong food, it leaves me feeling emptier than before I ate it.

 

What food will we reach for this day?

The blessings in our conflicts!

 

Third Week of Easter Tuesday

Acts 8:1-8

John 6:35-40

 

“Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.” We just repeated that line as our Responsorial Psalm and it is the lesson we need to learn today. In our readings, there is persecution and conflict and yet the people learn to see blessings in their conflicts. Our readings bring us to see understand this gift also today.

 

In our first reading, there is a lot of conflict as Stephen is martyred for the faith and Saul is now going house to house dragging out those who profess faith as a Christian and having them imprisoned. There is conflict throughout the region of Jerusalem. We are told that Philip went north to the city of Samaria. The city of Samaria is one place that was very hostile to Jesus and the others, and Jesus forbade his missionaries from going there. Philip goes into an even more hostile situation and turns it into a blessing as the people are filled with great joy!

 

In our Gospel, there is a lot conflict as the people are trying to understand what Jesus means by saying, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

 

Where are the conflicts in our lives that need to be seen as a blessing? What good can come from what we are dealing with at this time? May we be sustained by the words of Jesus, “And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, and they shall be lifted up on the last day.”  

It is because we are loved by God!

 

Tuesday Third Weekday Easter

Acts 7:51-8:1

John 6: 30-35

 

When is spring coming? It seems everyone is talking about the shift in the weather pattern. I have had three days of cabin fever and five days of spring fever. When will the shift to nice warm weather arrive? There is a big shift in our readings today.

 

In our first reading, there is a big shift as Stephen is the first to be martyred for the faith. All this talking about Jesus Christ takes on a whole new shift as it can cost one their life. The other big shift in this reading may be overlooked like the last line, tells us, “Saul approved of this killing.” We know Saul, will become St. Paul, the one who will tell us the most about Jesus Christ.

 

In our Gospel, there is a big shift as the people want another miracle. The day before they were fed until they were full and now that is hungry once again and ask for more. Jesus is as concerned for their wellbeing as he tells them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” The crowd desires something, but Jesus is letting them know it is something they should desire but someone.

 

The biggest shift in our readings is understanding that our desire for God does not originate in us. If it did, we would be a lot holier. Our desire for God comes from knowing God loved us first, in everything we do, God loves us, and our desire comes from the desire to love God in return. The more we rest in God’s love, the more we should desire to love God in return.

 

What kind of shift needs to happen in our lives today?

 

Come to the Eucharist when we struggle!

 

Third Sunday of Easter

Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19

I John 2:1-5

Luke 24: 35- 48

 

Do you remember a time when you were lost, confused and did not know what to do? What did you do during this time of struggle to get out of this time? In our Gospel, Jesus gives all those in that room three things to help them get out of their fear, doubt, and confusion and they are the three things he wants to give us to help us today.

 

The first thing Jesus does is give them his peace. He knows how troubled they are and how confused they are so he says, “Peace be with you.” We too can know this peace by being people of gratitude. People of gratitude know God’s peace because they think back to all the things that kept them up at night, that made them not sure what to do and how God help them through those times. Before coming to St. Patrick’s there were two things that I was worried about that became a blessing to me.  People of gratitude do not stop at just looking at the past and seeing how God helped them through hard times, they also look to the future and say, “I look forward to the blessings that God has in store for me even though I do not know what that might look like for me.

 

The second thing Jesus does for the apostles is he tells them he will open the scripture to them and give them the wisdom they need. Reading Sacred Scripture during times of struggling is so uplifting because it contains the very truth we need to hear.

 

The last thing Jesus does is he eats with them. When he eats with them, he says, “Touch me, feel me, and know that I have truly risen.” When we are struggling in life, confused about the future, it is good to enjoy a nice meal with friends to make sense of life.

 

Then Jesus says, “Now be a witness to me.” What Jesus is calling the apostles and us to be is a witness who not only professes the Good News with our lips, but it is evident in all of our actions.   

 

Do you see what Jesus laid out for them to do in times of struggle? He offers them peace, the scriptures, a meal and then dismisses them to go out. Jesus is offering the Eucharist. May we know what the disciples have been given which to come to the Eucharist when we are in times of struggle and pain.

 

What are we to do?

 

Easter Weekday Friday

Acts 5:34-42

John 6:1-15

 

I am going to give you some situations, and I want you to tell me what we are going to do.

 

What are we going to do if it is pouring rain when Mass gets over?

 

What are we going to do with this porcelain doorknob that was found in the ground by the rectory?

 

What are we going to do to help Mr. Czarnopys day a little easier?

 

What are we going to do is a question that gets asked of us and others all the time, and we need to be ready to answer.

 

In our first reading, the religious leaders are trying to figure out what they are going to do with the apostles preaching and talking about Jesus Christ. Gamaliel stands up and says, “Maybe we should do nothing because these men are doing things for God, and we do not want to fight against God.”

 

In our Gospel, Philip asks, “What are we going to do to feed all these people?” A small boy is brought forward with five barley loaves and two fish. Jesus takes this food from the boy, blesses it and distributes it to the people.

 

How often do we say, “What are we going to do?” We come to the Eucharist to know what to do.