Before the Good Shepherd Sunday images and homily, this little image:
This past Wednesday's Mass for the Year of the Priest had the children of our school giving Fr. Justin Ferguson, our parochial vicar, Msgr. John Cuddy our retired pastor and me a "Candy Card" at the end of Mass. I almost botched their well rehearsed presentation by forgetting to ask them to come forward for this presentation and other actions, but I did stop the choir, organ and recessional hymn, the Knights of Columbus 4th Degree Honor Guard, the departing altar servers and priests by a loud command "STOP!" as all came back to their original destination for this marvelous presentation!" YIKES if I had forgotten!
Click on image to enlarge and better read the children's cleverness!
GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY
I'm away this weekend through Wednesday visiting a priest friend of mine in Pensacola, so I don't have to prepare a homily for this Sunday. So I post a homily I gave in April of 2005, shortly after Pope John Paul II died and before Pope Benedict XVI was elected. We were without a pope, a rare time in the life of the Church. So for what it is worth, a blast of hot air from the past:
Introduction: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a theologian, educator, author and pastor who was martyred during the Nazi regime because of his faith and total commitment to Christ, once wrote, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in a field…and the pearl of great price for which a man will gladly go and sell all he has…Costly grace is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves nets and follows him.
Topic Statement: The Risen Lord equips the Church to live by costly grace, not by cheap grace.
1. In other words, to be a committed follower of Jesus and member of His Holy Church, we must be willing to lay down our lives for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
A. In is precisely in this that our present day culture has corrupted our understanding of the Church and our participation in her life. Several months ago, I had a conversation with someone who was interested in the Catholic Church. Her questions were quite revealing. She asked me if we had a good youth program. I tried to explain what we do. She asked me if we had an outreach to single and divorced people. I tried to explain what we do. She asked me if we had coffee and doughnuts after church. I tried to tell what we do. She asked me if we had a mother’s morning out. I told her no. This person was church shopping. She was approaching church membership and participation, as she would buy a membership in some exclusive club. It was a very consumerist and materialistic way of viewing church membership and participation. I finally told her, that she would have to go through the RCIA, that she would have to examine her conscience, that she would have to repent from her sins, by going to confession to a priest, that she would have to pick up her cross and follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. The Church wants us to share our time, talent and treasure. She didn’t join.
B. Up until this point in John’s Gospel, Jesus has spoken about himself as the bread of life, the light of the world, and the good shepherd. Now the people are pressing him to say directly whether or not he is the Messiah. “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus response indicates that for people of faith, the answer is obvious. Those who recognize him as shepherd hear his voice and follow him. Jesus can lead us to many uncomfortable places that require us to give rather than receive.
2. The costly grace of our relationship to Jesus and His Church is one that is a loyalty without compromise, our every thought, word and deed in accord with the will of God.
A. With the death of Pope John Paul II, the church has entered a unique period where we as Catholics are without a visible universal shepherd. In his ministry, the pope had the ability to gather people of all kinds in marvelous ways. He used to gather religious leaders of all religions in Assisi. He wanted to dialogue with people of all religions and no faith. The office of St. Peter, the papacy, has the role of being a shepherd, to guide people into a better relationship with one another and to guide them to God. As a Catholic Shepherd, the role of the pope is to guide us to Jesus Christ and His truth and to do so uncompromisingly. If it was in the midst of communism or the new threat to Catholicism, secularism, Pope John Paul spoke the truth so that his voice would be heard and the Catholic people would follow him. Pope John Paul, however, as well as his successor point not to themselves though, but to Jesus Christ who is the center of the Church and the Good Shepherd.
B. Think of the Gospel reading. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” We have received everything from God; should we not give all in return? Our love must be total and unconditional, our loyalty without compromise, our every thought, word and deed win accord with the will of God. Then and only then will we be able to say, “I know my Shepherd and my Shepherd knows me.”
Conclusion: As we come to the altar of God, may we see in Jesus our Good Shepherd and may we give him our undivided loyalty and commitment in thick and thin