From Our Pastor: 4th Sunday of Easter
Today St. Peter continues that first homily, and we hear the call to conversion. This is not just a call to the Jews, but a call to all of us, as we are accountable for the death of Christ by our sin. So let us repent and be baptized and never stop repenting! This homily brought about the conversion and baptism of 3000 persons that day. How profound and amazing when the Holy Spirit speaks, and when we open our hearts to the message. In the second reading St. Peter reminds us to suffer like Christ, patiently and quietly.
In the Gospel of John today Jesus gives us several warnings. First be on guard against those who try to sneak in and poach the flock. He warns that some will come and pretend to be a shepherd and will try to take the sheep away from the one true flock, the one true Church, that Jesus founded. He says there is only one way in and out and that is Jesus, who is the gate, which Jesus and the Catholic Church are one. He the head and shepherd and we the body. Look for true shepherds. Sadly, we have been taught and even more sad is that we have taught our children that a good shepherd is one who entertains us, gives in to our demands, and doesn’t follow rules. We have been taught this often by the church, by our families, but most especially our society. If the shepherd doesn’t placate to you, then he is mean and angry and rigid and bad. Stop teaching your children this mentality. Since being here, people have told their children that being challenged, held accountable, following the rules, or being corrected is bad. We have had many instances in the school of this and in the Church. Whether it be over following school rules or Church rules, it is the job of a good shepherd to guide the sheep rightly, especially when they are in danger. This does include parents and grandparents, stop leading your kids away from the Church by leading them away from rules and correction. A good shepherd is one who guards the sheep from outside danger, guides the sheep to safety and peace, and protects the sheep from themselves.
So often the sheep are in danger of outside forces, including sin, but also the wolves of those around the sheep. The good shepherd protects the sheep from being picked off by sin or the wolves of either other “churches” or just the society telling them bad things about faith and belief. So, a good shepherd should call out sin and challenge the sheep to not run to the wolves or not put themselves in danger of the wolves. Don’t be led away by others claiming an easier or you-fitting Christianity. There is only one. Don’t be led away by the temptations and lies of the world to run from the Church.
A true shepherd protects the sheep from themselves. If you understand that sheep are not smart, the sheep imagery of Jesus is a warning that often we don’t think. Sheep tend to follow the other sheep even into danger. Sheep have a tendency to get themselves into danger and lead the other sheep into following them into danger. Sheep would walk off a cliff side and lead the others to do so. Sheep will wander away from the group and be a target for predators. A true shepherd’s job is to keep you in the group, the Catholic Church. The true shepherd’s job is to keep you from wandering away. The true shepherd’s job is to lead in the example of the Good Shepherd and not his own way or the way the sheep want to go. Mass and the homily and the music, etc. is not meant to be entertaining. They are not meant to be like the other parts of your life. Mass is supposed to be totally different than the world around it. The homily and music, etc. is not the reason we go to a place for mass. The Eucharist and the reverence of the mass should be why we attend. The way rules are followed, and the faith is proclaimed is why we attend mass. The rest of our lives are about entertainment, let mass be the one place where you give of yourself and challenge yourself to discipline and growth.
The shepherd should guide the sheep to safety and peace. All of us want stability and peace and safety. That can only be truly found in living out the life that Jesus has called us to. He has called us to a WAY of life and anything else or any other way will fall short. Be the best version of yourself that God has in store for you, and you will find true peace. Once we have the stability of resting in Him and his safety, even when suffering and struggles come, no matter how tragic and immense, Jesus will give us a peace that can weather any storm in Him. Peace and safety come by living in Christ and His Church and His rules and His way. Do not be led astray. Do not lead your families astray. Just because you may be challenged or corrected or called to follow the rules, doesn’t mean it’s because of malice, but instead out of love by your shepherds who should be following the true and Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. He didn’t say it would be easy, but today in the gospel warns us to be on guard and follow His Way.
Thank you all so much for your birthday wishes and gifts for Fr. Rafal and myself. The generous giving is appreciated. Your kind outreach and wonderful words of encouragement are so greatly appreciated. We both enjoyed our birthdays and appreciate the outpouring of love.
-Rev. Steven Arisman