So… what’s your story?

Fr. Austin Fleming

The Lord, my good shepherd, knows me and knows my story, knows the whole of my story – and he knows you and your story just as well. And he knows the stories behind our stories.

He knows the simplicities and the complexities,
the joys and the sorrows,
the selfishness and the generosity,
the strengths and weaknesses,
the hopes and disappointments,
the talents and disabilities
that are part of every one of our stories – yours and mine||
– and the story of us all together as his people, as the Church.

And he knows and understands how all of these contribute to the twists and turns, the ups and downs, the graces and the challenges that weave together our thoughts, words, deeds, choices and decisions – into the story that each of our lives is….. (2015)

Good Shepherd in Christian Vocations

Fr. Evans K Chama, M.Afr

The 4th Sunday of Easter is the day of prayer for vocations. Yes, it’s rightly said, “vocations” for we look beyond the traditional tendency to think only terms of priesthood and religious life. We broaden our perception to talk of vocations in the Christian community in which each person has his place and a role to play. That’s why, even before I can open my mouth to say a prayer for vocations, a-twofold-question recoils to me: what’s my calling; and how am I living it out, here and now? (2018)

He Leads Us Beside Still Waters

Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino

Recently, I finished a Great Courses class on the Founding Fathers.  The course focused mostly on the construction and implementation of the Constitution of the United States.  It included many insights into those remarkable men who convinced our fledgling republic to embrace a system of government that would provide the stability missing in the Articles of Confederation.

Most of these early American leaders were religious people in that they believed in God and trusted in Him to guide the country.  At the same time, most of them embraced a philosophy/theology that said that while God was concerned with mankind in general, He was distant from the individual.  You might remember that they called this type of religion Deism.  Simply put, Deism would say, that God created mankind and is concerned about His People, but He doesn’t get involved with an individual person’s problems or even his or her life.

It is easy for us to fall into a form of Deism, particularly when we consider some of our Easter formulas.  For example, we say, correctly, “Jesus died on the cross to save mankind from sin.”  Or, “He saved us from the power of the devil.”  True again. But if we stop there, we could easily become Deists worshiping a distant but uninvolved God. Jesus does more than just care for mankind in general.  He cares for us as individuals.  No one is insignificant to Him.  There is nothing about any of our lives, no situation, no event, no concern, no fear, no joy that the Lord does not want to embrace.  He makes our needs His needs.  He loves all of us and each of us.  He loves every part of each one of our lives. (2021)

The spirit propels Christianity forward

Jamie Waters

In each of today’s readings, we are invited to recognize Christ’s resurrection not only as the guarantee of our salvation, but also as a reality that transforms how we live and how we serve others every day….

As we continue through the Easter season and near the feast of Pentecost, we can draw on today’s readings for important insights about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the life of the church. Likewise, we can reflect on what belief in the resurrection means in our lives and the importance of Christ’s sacrifice for the salvation of all.  (2021)

The differences between cows and sheep

Fr. George Smiga

Today’s Gospel is one of several places in the New Testament where Jesus is associated with a shepherd. If Jesus is the shepherd, then we are the sheep. Now I must admit that it is not uncommon for people to approached me and complain about this image. They point out that sheep are dirty and dull animals—animals with which they are not flattered to be compared. As one man told me, “I am a beloved child of God, not some clueless farm animal!”

The point is well taken. Yet the Scriptures do not present sheep to us in order to imply that we are sheep. We are not sheep. For that matter, neither is Jesus a shepherd. But the image of shepherd and sheep is used to say something about our relationship to God. Therefore, today, rather than being distracted by the animal imagery, I would like to ask what is useful about it. How does the image of sheep help us understand our relationship to God.

I think the place to begin is by noting that sheep are different from cows. Cows are rather confident animals. They are not easily panicked. So if you own a number of cows, you are able to herd them. You can stand behind them and shake a stick or make a loud noise and the cows will look back and say, “I don’t know what that person is doing, but I want to get away from him.”—and together they will move ahead as a group. You can herd cows by getting behind them and pushing them forward.

Sheep are different. They are not as confident as cows and are easily shaken. If you stand behind a group of sheep and shake a stick or make a loud noise, they will panic and disperse in every direction. The only way you can move a group of sheep forward is by having them trust you. Then when they hear your voice, they will follow it. In other words, sheep cannot be herded. They must be led.  (2012)

Other sheep

Fr. John Kavanaugh, SJ

One of my earliest schoolday memories is concern for pagan babies. We would have collections or be given little banks for the purpose of saving them one at a time. There might even be pictures or names we could relate to, sent to us by missionaries.

Some of us wondered what happened to all the countless children of the world who suffered, not only for lack of food, but for want of faith in Jesus. Limbo was proposed as an answer to our cares. It wasn’t heaven. But it was not hell. Small comfort for us would-be lawyers quarreling over equity and fairness in the universe.

The problem was made worse by Bible history. All those heroes and heroines—Moses and Miriam, David and Ruth, Sarah and Noah—assigned to limbo? By high school I had uncomfortably added other names, from Socrates to Gandhi. And the sophistication of adulthood did not ease the irritation….(1997)

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