May 8, 2022
Fourth Sunday of Easter
The parable of the Good Shepherd is not a novelty for the hearers of Jesus. This is because the Palestinian area was predominantly a pastoral country, and they knew the life of a shepherd. In the Old Testament, the image of the Shepherd is often applied to God as well as to the leaders of the people. The book of Exodus represents God several times as a Shepherd. The prophet Isaiah compares God's care and protection of His people to that of a shepherd; "He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against His breast and leading the mother ewes to their rest: (Is. 40:11).
Psalm 23 is David's famous picture of God as The Good Shepherd: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul". Through the prophet Ezekiel, God had assured his people that He would overthrow all other shepherds and send His Son as the Shepherd of His flock (Ezek. 34:13)
In our gospel reading this weekend (Jn. 10:27-30), Jesus tells us that He is the Good Shepherd who has come down to tend His flock. A shepherd is expected to lead his sheep to green pastures and cool streams where there is refreshment, rest, and rock-like security, He knows how to protect his sheep from the vilest of dangers. He is even prepared to give up his life to safeguard his flock. However, his efforts will be in vain if the sheep do not listen to his voice.
Just as the shepherds knew each sheep of their flock by name, and the sheep knew their shepherd and his voice, so Jesus knows each one of us, our needs, our merits, and our faults. He loves us as we are, with all our limitations, and he expects us to return his love by keeping his words. He speaks to us at every Mass, through the Scripture, through our pastors, our parents, our friends, and through the events of our lives. "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our consciences, and shouts to us in our pain!" (C.S. Lewis). Being aware of the unending love that Jesus the Good Shepherd has shown for us His sheep, let us pledge to hear His words of love and follow His path (Jn. 10:27).
Fr. Tony Onyeihe, Associate Pastor
May 1, 2022
In today’s Gospel, John sets the scene for Jesus’ encounter with Peter, sitting by a “charcoal fire.” There is just one other mention of a charcoal fire in John’s Gospel: when Peter warms himself while awaiting Jesus’ trial, and Peter goes on to deny knowing Jesus, three times. The evangelist directly links Jesus’ three questions of Peter, “do you love me?”, to Peter’s three denials. Through his repeated questioning, Jesus helps Peter to face his actions fully, and to accept forgiveness fully as well.
When God invites us into prayer, we may be invited to enter into deep conversation with God about our lives. God can pose the same questions to us, again and again over time, to face what we might prefer to avoid: Can you forgive someone who has hurt you? Can you be more generous? Can you let go of obstacles to becoming more loving? And even: Do you love me?
Jesus’ encounter with Peter suggests that we can face such questions with deep trust in God.
Fr. Don Antweiler, Pastor
April 24, 2022
2ND SUNDAY OF EASTER – DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
The second Sunday of Easter was declared as the Divine Mercy Sunday by Pope John Paul II following the directive of Our Lord Jesus Christ as revealed to Maria Faustina Kowalska in her encounters with Jesus. Jesus Christ as The Divine Mercy instructs us to approach Him in prayer to ask for His mercy, let His mercy flow from us to others, and trust completely in Him so that we can truly experience the graces that flow from His mercy.
In our gospel (John 20:19 – 31), we read of the appearance of Jesus to his disciples after his resurrection. The disciples were huddled in fear behind closed doors following the events of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the Cross. He comes in their midst to calm their fear and reassure them of his presence amongst them with his greeting of peace. Noticeably, Thomas, one of the Twelve was not with them when Jesus came. When the others inform him that the Risen Lord, he responds, “Unless I see the wounds of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail-marks and put my and into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).
A week later, the disciples were again inside. Thomas was with them when Jesus appeared. After giving his greeting of peace, he addresses his unbelief. Most remarkably, he not only admonishes Thomas to believe but equally invites him to touch the marks of the crucifixion, the wounds in his body. Even though Jesus is glorified and has left death forever, he still bears on his body the marks of the crucifixion, the wounds inflicted on him by the nails that held him on the cross. In bearing the wounds of his suffering, Jesus gives us a message that woundedness is a part of the human condition.
We are a wounded world redeemed only by the mercy of God (Roman 9:16). Some of us carry wounds that we can point to. Wounds from words that people spoke to us in anger or hatred that still sting. Words that we spoke to others and would give anything to take back. Wounds of fear, doubts, mistakes, and disastrous choices made in the past. Parents who wish that they could have done things differently and children who wish they could take some things back. We are like Jesus in our humanity because we bear the marks, the woundedness of life (Gal. 6:17). Just like Jesus, we also bear the glory of God within us. Trusting in God’s mercy and forgiveness, we move on with this strange mixture of woundedness and glory.
We would have loved to erase all our wounds but that is seldom possible. Instead, the Risen Lord invites us to accept those things we cannot change and use them to help others. God allows our wounds to remain, not to embarrass us, not to shame us but to provide a way that we can give life to others. Like Jesus, let us invite others to touch our wounds. That touch can give them life and hope. We are called to heal the wounds of others by showing them the same mercy that we have received from God. JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU!!!
Fr. Tony Onyeihe, Associate Pastor