4th Sunday of Easter (C)


“It is difficult to forgive,” writes Father Hawkswell. “However, it can be equally difficult to accept forgiveness – from others or from God. It takes humility.” (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
Bloom Chama Chua Cummins Fleming Hawkswell Holsington
Kavanaugh Lane Langeh Lawrence McKinnon Pavone Pellegrino
Powell Schuster Senior Smiga Terra Turner Wester

Featured Homilies


Good Shepherd Promises



What do you think you would need to be happy in the week ahead of you? Perhaps you came to church today to pray for whatever it is you’d need to be happy this week. Perhaps that’s something you’ve been praying for – for a long time…

I suspect we all have a wish list, long or short, of what’s wanting in our lives of what we believe would  make us happy. And it’s probably fair to say that when most of us come to church, we come with that prayer in our hearts and minds.

And all of that comes face to face this week with the image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the Lord. As the 23rd psalm puts it: The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want. “Nothing I shall want…”




Facing the Evil that Comes into Our Lives


ORIGINAL TITLE: Boston Bombings and God (This homily can easily be adapted to currents news and events quite easily.)

Being a good person does not mean that we will never have to face evil. Being a person of faith does not exempt us from suffering. Coming to church and saying our prayers does not make us more secure at public events or next to fertilizer plants. Faith does not assure us that we are exempt from cancer, or earthquakes, or terrorist attacks.

To put this most bluntly, faith is not primarily about security. It is about a relationship. People who believe are not safer than those who do not believe. But they can be stronger, stronger as they face the evils that come into their lives. They can be stronger because they believe in a God who is with them, a God who has promised them eternal life and a courage to deal with the difficulties of life.

This is why the image that Jesus uses in today’s Gospel is so important. Jesus said that he holds us in his hand and that no one—no evil—will take us from him. That promise is a promise of his presence, a promise that we will be with him. From his presence we will draw guidance, strength, and hope.




Eternally Servant and Lord

| 2019
Dominican Friars of England & Wales, Scotland

You see the contrast? The paradox even?  The Lamb the symbol of powerlessness, and the throne the symbol of power. This in fact is the last, the final image given us by the New Testament.  My power, says the God who speaks in the New Testament, is made perfect in weakness.  Jesus did not claim equality with God but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, yes, even to the death of the Cross.  It is the Lamb, the one who takes the form of the servant, who is the Shepherd, the ruler, and the guide.


I Hear Voices. Don’t We All. 

Tom Bartolomeo | 2013

Note that throughout the entire episode, Jesus did not bother with Peter’s past failures. Why? Because for Jesus love is not only forward looking but also constantly challenges the person to outdo himself.

The dialogue also expresses what being a Christian is all about. If we only bother to listen, Jesus constantly asks us the question, “Do you love me more than these?” Given this, do we like Peter answer “yes” despite all our inadequacies and sins? Or rather, in spite of them as they will be with us for the rest of our life? We should. And when we do so wholeheartedly, we will discover that after our every “yes,” Jesus will continue to invite us to follow Him more closely until the time comes when we do so not out of a moment’s impulse but out of love — as Peter did till his martyrdom.


The Time of Great Distress

HomiliesST. MARY OF THE VALLEY | 2007

Bottom line: We live in a time of great distress – but, if we are properly guided, pressure can serve a good purpose: it can transform our souls like pressure transforms coal into a diamond.

In today’s second reading St. John speaks about a “time of great distress.” He seems to be describing our world. Even though we have opportunities which ancient people (even the very wealthy) would envy, still we have plenty of reason for anxiety: hostile nations with powerful weapons and small groups of terrorists (or lone gunmen) who can wreak terrible havoc; the culture of violence and casual sex which constantly bombards our children; the inability to make ends meet even with two parents employed full-time outside the home. These trends can cause great distress. On top of it all each one of us has particular personal and family problems.

Our society seems to be more frazzled, less courteous. Archbishop Brunett told about the insulting, hateful letters he received after writing an op-ed defending traditional marriage. Some of the letters, of course, came from cranks, but other came from professional people – like teachers, lawyers or doctors. In the reading from Acts we hear about the “violent abuse” which Paul and Barnabas endured. That phrase characterizes much of today’s public discourse. We live in a time of great distress.

RELATED HOMILIES | 2022 Homilies


Pleasing Others is Not Our Vocation



It may not be a good thing nor convincing to start off a sales pitch by expounding the limitations of your product. But this is no ordinary pitch. It’s meant for the choir. Let’s face it – being a Christian can be disheartening to say the least, ‘suicidal’ at worst. How many Christians have suffered, are subjected to violence, injustice, betrayal, deceit and even murder as a result of their faith? It is not easy to faithfully live a Christian life in a world that promotes contrary values. Often, it feels almost impossible to be Christian, to be counter-cultural; to be honest in a society that thrives on subterfuge; to be clean in business and politics where playing dirty is the rule of the game; to be merciful when the world is out to exact more than just a pound of flesh from you. Most people would simply resign themselves to these situations and just go with the flow: “That’s how things work.” It is possible to be a Christian and survive in today’s world?



Alone in a Crowd, Alone for Others



We are surrounded by people. We are continually waiting in line– the grocery store, the bank, the DMV. There are so many people at work. So many people in school. We are part of the crowd; we are the traffic; and yet we are alone. Our family is relatively big; three, four children along with Mom and Dad. Somebody is always talking. Somebody is always crying. There’s a lot of noise and most of it is happy noise, but Mom feels very much alone, so does Dad. And they have each other. The little children feel so alone that they need to crawl into Mom and Dad’s bed every now and then. The adolescents and older Teens are convinced that no one understands them. They are probably right. But God understands them. God understand each of us. He sees the unique reflections of His Image and Likeness He created each of us to be. He knows our spiritual potential. And He offers us the ability to live in His Presence.



Jesus, the Good Shepherd: We are in His Hand

HomiliesYEAR C HOMILIES | 2016

Today we think about Jesus as our Good Shepherd. Thinking of Jesus as our Good Shepherd reminds us of the intimacy and friendship between Jesus and us. The beginning of our Gospel today also gives us a picture of that intimacy between Jesus and us as Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) Near the end of our brief Gospel passage today we get another picture of the intimacy between Jesus and us when Jesus says of us his sheep, “No one can take them out of my hand.” (John 10:28) This is a beautiful description of Jesus close to us and protecting us; we are in Jesus’ hand. Part of the famous Footprints poem also reminds us of how close God is to each of us…


Is God Calling You?



This Sunday is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations to the consecrated life. (The italicized words are necessary because matrimony is also a vocation or calling.)

To many people, “consecrated life” means simply “celibacy.” If it were not for celibacy, they say, they might become priests or religious sisters.

I am afraid they understand neither marriage nor consecrated celibacy. “Both the Sacrament of Matrimony and virginity for the Kingdom of God come from the Lord Himself,” says the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “Esteem of virginity for the sake of the Kingdom and the Christian understanding of marriage are inseparable, and they reinforce each other.”


The Good Shepherd, Practical Atheism and Authenticity


Pope emeritus Benedict often remarked that he thought it was not so much atheists who damage the Christian faith as it is the “practical atheists” who do the real damage.  The “practical atheists” are those who profess themselves Christians but who then live as if God does not exist.  At the heart of this practical atheism which is very present in our day and also very easy to fall into is an in-authenticity of relationship.  We say one thing yet we do another and we convince ourselves that no one is the wiser; including God.

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday when we, as Church, reflect on the truth that the risen Lord is indeed the good and beautiful shepherd who came to seek out and save the lost.  But here is the rub: we cannot reflect and proclaim the Lord as Good Shepherd and ourselves remain in-authentic in relation to him.  To proclaim Christ as the Good Shepherd demands an authenticity of relationship on our part.  This authenticity of relationship is witnessed to us in today’s gospel (Jn. 10:27-30) – the relationship of us and the Lord and the relationship of the Son and the Father.


After Life

HomiliesSUNDAY WEB SITE | 1997

Imagine us in [the] womb. We are a remarkable group of fetuses who are aware of and can talk about our condition. What troubles us is the regular and inevitable departure and disappearance of our brothers and sisters. It seems a dread experience, not only for the one who is untimely ripped from our comfortable state but for all of us. We never see them again. They’re gone. All that is left for us is mourning and memory.

The question is then posed. Could there be an afterlife, a form of existence beyond this womb, so familiar and secure? Could there be another world beyond the walls of our experience?

One budding philosopher-fetus, clearly on the route to skepticism, deems it impossible. How could there be life after womb-death? Every means of sustenance—oxygen, blood and nutriment—is gone. The cord is cut. How could there be an existence without it? Every piece of evidence we have indicates that we could have no life without it.


Jesus: One with the Father



The Gospel of John today focuses on Jesus as Shepherd — on Jesus being one with the Father.  This is a powerful statement of Jesus.  We must not water it down in any way.  The Father and the Son are one.  We must never take the road that so many take today of beginning to think that Jesus is just a good man, who had a special relationship with God and nothing more.  No, with the early followers of Jesus we must proclaim:  Jesus is Lord, Jesus is God, Jesus is Savior.  This witness, even in our modern, accepting age, can bring us to martyrdom.

The promise of the Gospel today is that Jesus is with us and will be with us.  We are not speaking about Jesus as an historical figure, who did nice things and spoke nice words!  No, we are speaking about Jesus, who is God, who is Savior and who is Lord of all.  Jesus promises to be with us and so His promise in the Gospel today is true for us as it was true for His early followers:  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.  No one can take them out of my hand.


The World is God!



At the end of today’s passage, Jesus said, “The Father and I are one”. That was true of him, of course, in a quite unique way. But in a different way, it is also true of us, all of us. God is creating me right now. God is creating you right now. God gifts us with existence. If we are anything at all, in one sense, we are God – ‘The Father and I’, and you, “are one”. It is not just we humans. Every electron, every neutron and proton within every single atom, and the energies keeping them whirling around yet holding together, are being created at this moment by God. The world is God’s. The world is God!

God has given us a certain responsibility for the world, as the Book of Genesis so poetically expressed it – “to cultivate and tend it”. But we are suffocating it and raping it – right now – and the world is going mad, slowly but inexorably; and sometimes it seems that so are we.


Good Shepherd



The first and second readings today illumine the meaning of Jesus’ title “Good Shepherd,” and the meaning of his assertion in the Gospel that he knows his sheep and they follow him. This does not simply refer to following his teachings in this life. The Good Shepherd, who died for the sheep, shepherds them through death and beyond its grasp to the life that conquers all death. “I know them,” he says. He knows our life and the pain of our death. “They follow me,” he says. We follow him to the exalted glory of a life, in our human body and soul, that will be freed from the corruption of sin and death, and indeed that will include our own resurrection from the dead.



Be a Stinky Sheep!


Being a former farmboy, I am not all that happy about being compared to a sheep. Sheep are dirty. Loud. Stupid. And they stink. When I was in seminary, our preaching and Scripture professors told us to think carefully before we called God’s people “sheep.” Is that really the image you want to leave with your parishioners? That they are dirty, loud, stupid, and stinky? If you call yourself a shepherd, then you’re the keeper of the sheep; the rustler of the sheep; you poke at them to make them go where you want, and when the time comes, you fleece them! So, maybe the whole sheep/shepherd image is a bit outdated. Unless, of course, you remember that back in Jesus’ day sheep were a foundation stone of the economy. They provided just about everything needed to survive. They were cared for almost like a family’s children and were protected from lions and wolves. That sheep/shepherd image has two sides. The side Jesus uses this evening is the side that places the sheep well within the family, well within the protection of the Father. He places us – his sheep – in familiar territory, in comfortable reach of food, water, and shelter. He places us – his flock – within reach of his Word.

Jesus Teaches How to Love


No homily available for this Sunday. This is next week’s homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter –

My friends, you have heard this from me before, we can summarize the Bible in three scripture passages. Ready? First John 4:16 tells us God is love. Genesis chapter 1:26-27 says we are made in the image and likeness of this God who is love. What are we supposed to do then? In 1 Corinthians chapter 13, St. Paul says, without love we are nothing. In the Gospel of John today, Jesus tells us, I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you. God is love. We are made in the image and likeness of this God who is love. Therefore, love. The meaning of life is that easy and yet very hard. Why? We have troubles loving as we ought.

Case in point, notice how Jesus gave this commandment at the last supper after Judas had left them? You see, Judas wasn’t open to this Gospel of love Jesus was preaching because he wanted to promote the Gospel of Judas, which at the moment was collecting thirty pieces of silver in exchange for betraying the Lord. You see, Judas was not interested in the Gospel of serving others. He was interested in the Gospel of serving himself.


Surviving a World Beset with Problems



We certainly live in troubled times. There is a great deal about which people can become discouraged and downhearted. Covid isolated and separated us – It has taken the lives of millions – Its variants continue to attack and disrupt lives. Our republic is no longer governed by leaders who serve the common good. Instead, they are owned and controlled by individuals and corporations. And these are made up of the rich and the powerful. We are overwhelmed by information – But we don’t really know what are truths, half-truths, or downright lies! There is even the prospect of a third World War – and the use of weapons of mass destruction! Millions are refugees from the criminal war in Ukraine – Millions of others face starvation in Africa because no wheat can be grown in Ukraine. Inflation is rampant in America – The dollar is worth only 64% of what it was in 2002 – And every one of us has the personal suffering and hardship that is part of the human condition!


God’s Grace Helps Us Be Bearers of Hope to Others

HomiliesST. LOUIS REVIEW | 2022

At the beginning of our excerpt from the Acts of the Apostles for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, we see Paul and Barnabas taking their seat in the synagogue. This shows that they didn’t believe that the teachings of Jesus and His resurrection would separate them from the synagogue. They took their seats, prepared to celebrate and pray as part of the community. Their encouragement to others was to stay faithful to the grace of God. As God reveals Himself to us, we have a responsibility to respond to that revelation.

Imagine the confusion and excitement that surrounded this new testimony from Paul and Barnabas. They were speaking of the One who had been raised from the dead, and spoke of Him as the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament. For those who didn’t believe that, it caused division and sometimes jealousy. For those who did believe in the testimony, it gave great hope and joy.


The Beloved Disciple

by Fr. Adrian McCaffery| 2022
Homiletic & Pastoral Review

For us Christians, the beloved disciple is the role we are cast into. We must step into the part of the beloved disciple from these stories; we must presume an intimacy with Christ, our dearest friend; we must search for the generosities that surround us in order to point out, to ourselves and each other, Christ’s handiwork in our lives, in order to interpret his largesse, to foretell his donation, in the midst of life. This friendship enables us to interpret, not only the sacred scriptures, but also the world. It becomes the fundamental and only hermeneutic: the lens through which everything is seen. Friendship with Christ is the fundamental key; it is the lens through which everything must be measured, weighed, interpreted. We must each become beloved disciples — friends — of Christ, so that, in the midst of our own lives, we too can say with confidence and certainty, wherever we are, in whatever experience: “It is the Lord.” And Christ too will say: “They know me; I know them.”


A Good Shepherd who Walks Along


The 4th Sunday of Easter is called the Good Shepherd Sunday during which we read from the 10th chapter of St John’s Gospel where Jesus refers to himself as Good shepherd. By the image of the “shepherd” what message does Jesus want to communicate to us? On this Sunday we are invited to pray for vocations. But for which vocations should we be praying for?

The shepherd accompanies his sheep to the pastures where they can eat and, possibly also, drink. He protects them from the attacks of thieves and predators. A bad shepherd is one who falls short in these responsibilities. Instead of using the battle to spur on his animals, he uses it to inflict pain; instead of being vigilant he becomes distracted by his personal preoccupations -leaving some of the sheep straying away where they are exposed to danger. And at the appearance of danger, instead of thinking of the security of animals, he runs away for his safety leaving them at mercy of enemies. This the reproach you hear against shepherds in the Old Testament.


Recognizing the Shepherd’s Voice


Claret Media Cameroon

The Church celebrates the fourth Sunday of Easter as The Good Shepherd Sunday. It is also vocations Sunday. The purpose of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is to fulfil publicly the Lord’s instruction, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into His harvest” (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2), because each year John Chapter 10 is read. The Gospel Acclamation from Jn10:14 insists, “I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my own sheep and my own know me”. In effect, Jesus was not called “A” Good Shepherd, but “The” Good Shepherd. In John 10:1-10 Jesus is presented not only as The Shepherd, but also as The Sheepfold Gate. Everyone passes through Him and all who enter through Him will be saved. He distinguishes between the Thief and The Good Shepherd: A thief comes only to “steal and kill and destroy”. However, Jesus, The Good Shepherd, has come “So that they may have life and have it to the full”. Unlike some who flee when faced with danger, He gave up His life for the sheep in His care. This is why He is The Good Shepherd.


Abuse of Humor




Humor makes people feel good, but like any other gift, we sometimes abuse it. When I started college, I used sarcasm a lot, trying to be funny. Once when I said something that was probably more hurtful than funny to one friend, another friend challenged me on it. He said, “Sarcasm is not funny. You’re better than that. Don’t use it.” At the time, I thought he was wrong, and I didn’t know how to be funny in a different way. Now I find that the humor people like best is making fun of yourself, not of someone else. I’m still guilty of using the wrong kind of humor in certain situations, so I am not always the best model. But it worries me when I hear engaged couples or married couples use sarcasm or putdowns against each other as a way of being funny. On one hand, it’s a compliment to your partner if you can say something outlandish, and they know you don’t mean it. On the other hand, why not say more often something you do mean and compliment your partner to strengthen the relationship positively? Why not laugh a little more at yourself? The same temptation to put someone down occurs within groups. We sometimes have our strongest arguments with people who are our tightest allies. We sometimes complain the loudest about people with whom we hold high values: other members of the family, neighbors on our block, other Americans, other Catholics. Infighting is usually not helpful, and it can obscure the many values that people hold in common.

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In the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine: Celebrant & Homilist: Rev. Richard Mullins Guest Choir: St. Mary Parish, Rockville, MD

Featured Homilies (2019, 2016)

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