Tag Archives: Good Shepherd

Good Shepherd Sunday

Good ShepherdOn the 4th Sunday of Easter in the Novus Ordo liturgy the Church reads the gospel of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Here are some words from a sermon by St. Peter Chrysologus:

“We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.” In many passages we are told of the joy with which the Shepherd will come from heaven to recall his wandering sheep to life-giving pastures—sheep who have grown weak and sick through feeding on noxious weeds. “Enter his gates,” says the psalmist, “giving thanks.” Praise is the only way to enter the gates of faith. “Let us enter his courts to the accompaniment of song, declaring his greatness, praising and blessing his holy name.” It is through that name that we are saved, it is at the sound of that name that all in heaven and on earth and beneath the earth shall bend the knee, and every creature confess his love for the Lord his God.

Pope Benedict’s baptism of 20 children today: they inherit eternal life

An annual tradition on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is the baptism of the children by the Pope in the Sistine Chapel. Today, Benedict baptized 20 children. This is the same place where the cardinals meet under lock and key to elect a new pontiff. Here is the pope’s teaching.

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The joy arising from the celebration of Christmas finds its completion today in the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. To this joy is added another reason for those of us who are gathered here: in the Sacrament of Baptism that will soon be administered to these infants, the living and active presence of the Holy Spirit is manifested, enriching the Church with new children, enlivening and making them grow, and we cannot help but rejoice. I wish to extend a special greeting to you, dear parents and godparents, who today bear witness to your faith by requesting Baptism for these children, because they are regenerated to new life in Christ and become part of the community of believers.

The Gospel account of Jesus’ baptism, which we have heard today according to St Luke’s account, shows the path of abasement and humility that the Son of God freely chose in order to adhere to the plan of the Father, to be obedient to His loving will for mankind in all things, even to the sacrifice on the Cross. Having reached adulthood, Jesus begins His public ministry by going to the River Jordan to receive from John the baptism of repentance and conversion. What happens may appear paradoxical to our eyes. Does Jesus need repentance and conversion? Of course not. Yet He Who is without sin is placed among the sinners to be baptized, to fulfil this act of repentance; the Holy One of God joins those who recognize in themselves the need for forgiveness and ask God for the gift of conversion – that is, the grace to turn to Him with their whole heart, to be totally His. Jesus wills to put Himself on the side of sinners, by being in solidarity with them, expressing the nearness of God. Jesus shows solidarity with us, with our effort to convert, to leave behind our selfishness, to detach ourselves from our sins, saying to us that if we accept Him into our lives, He is able to raise us up and lead us the heights of God the Father. And this solidarity of Jesus is not, so to speak, a mere exercise of the mind and will. Jesus was really immersed in our human condition; He lived it to the utmost – although without sin – and in such a way that He understands weakness and fragility. Therefore He is moved to compassion; He chooses to “suffer with” men, to be penitent together with us. This is the work of God that Jesus wishes to accomplish: the divine mission to heal those who are wounded and to cure those who are sick, to take upon Himself the sin of the world.

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In the soil of our heart God first planted the root of love for him

Today, the Holy Father announced his Good Shepherd Sunday missive on vocations. Singed on 18 October 2011, Benedict wrote this letter for the 49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations that’s celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday. The Pope’s message is exactly what I was trying to teach to the RCIA people yesterday: God’s love is total and our love for Him needs to be an icon –that is, mirrored– to the world. His theme this year is: Vocations, the Gift of the Love of God. A few paragraphs of the text follow:

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In a famous page of the Confessions, Saint Augustine
expresses with great force his discovery of God, supreme beauty and supreme
love, a God who was always close to him, and to whom he at last opened his mind
and heart to be transformed: “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever
ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was
outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged
into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with
you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they
would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my
deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed
your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted
you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your
peace.” (X, 27.38). With these images, the Saint of Hippo seeks to
describe the ineffable mystery of his encounter with God, with God’s love that
transforms all of life.

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Good Shepherd Sunday: which are the authoritative voices that guide you?

Christ the Good Shepherd BE Murrilo.jpgGood Shepherd Sunday, the Fourth Sunday following the great feast of Easter, is celebrated today by the Church. Today is a day in we all focus on the tenderness of the Lord and smoothing quality of his voice gently calling us to deeper and fuller communio with him. The Fourth Sunday of Easter is the day in which the Holy Father draws our attention to vocations in the Church (priest, brother, sister, nun, deacon, perhaps consecrated lay person) for one’s salvation but also for the glory of God in the proclamation of the Gospel and in the iconic life of a Catholic in the sacraments. As Blessed John Paul said in Pastor Bonus, “the task of its [the Church’s] shepherd of pastors was indeed to be that service ‘which is called very expressly in Sacred Scripture a diaconia or ministry'” (1). Benedict’s message for the 48th World Day of Prayer for Vocations can be read here.

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Lent asks us to live in simplicity

We can’t live in abstractions.  Reality as it is, God in Himself, is revealed in the concrete. The temptation is to let ourselves be consumed by what is non-essential, with things that burdensome or just plainly a pain. God is not known in the abstract; God is only revealed in the concreteness of life: in love, goodness, beautiful things, friendship, prayer, the sacred Liturgy, the proclamation of the Word, the sacred Tradition of the Church, and the like. Lent for some people is an abstract time of the Church’s calendar because they don’t necessarily know the aim, the goal, the necessity and the personal. What we all should bear in mind is that Lent is a simple time for getting back to basics so that these basics become virtue and virtue becomes a permanent way of looking at things in front of us. A little girl who does religious education following the method of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) focusses our attention in how she experiences this period of conversion. “What is Lent? Lent is a time of reflection, of preparing ourselves for the resurrection of Our Lord… by doing something that takes a great effort… a time of sharing and giving ourselves, body and soul to God and the Holy Spirit”  (Jessica, 9 years old, Chihuahua Mexico, Journals of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, 1984 – 1997, p.149).

Jessica’s rather simple declaration hopefully gives you pause during the day to give heart and the mind the space to do something other than work. Lent, like Advent, is a fitting to time of the liturgical year to reflect on the meaning of the Cross and the our Lord’s resurrection (this is what we call the Paschal Mystery). In what concrete ways does God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit capture our imagination –our heart? The founder of the CGS movement Sofia Cavalletti writes: “Simplicity also imposes a kind of asceticism, but it is an asceticism that is joyful, happy, dynamic, and opens out to spaces that are always becoming wider. It is an asceticism that is invigorating, filling the lungs with fresh air that empowers us to keep climbing toward the summit, where the space we will stand on might have become smaller, but the space before us, the panorama we view, will have opened out on the infinite” (“Holy Simplicity,” Journals of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, 2003 – 2008, p. 4).

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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