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Contents: Volume 2


- Good Shepherd Sunday







1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP
2. -- Dennis Keller
3. -- John Boll, OP
4. --
5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

4th Sunday of Easter

I love the Gospel about the Good Shepherd! This image speaks strongly to the warmth of unconditional love that we all so desperately need in our lives. Even the closest of the close waiver in comparison to the inner strength and comfort the Good Shepherd provides.

I see a bit of a dilemma between the first reading and the gospel, however. In the age of ecumenism, is the way to salvation only through direct belief in Jesus or will Jesus find a way to connect all to "one flock, one shepherd"? Scholars of different religions and denominations certainly weigh in on that one!

In current times, probing one's legitimate questions is so very easy through the internet ... and often so very harmful. (There is a 15 year old in my household!!) Some of Christianity's past stance is less than admirable and actually rather harsh. I remember the pain of missing a favorite cousin's wedding long ago because she was to be married in a Protestant church not a Catholic one in a "mixed marriage". It is still painful to recall, even though Jesus is the center of both practices/beliefs. I took great pleasure in participating in their 50th wedding anniversary gathering though!!

I also recall an extraordinarily kind Muslim family in our neighborhood as well. They were people who exhibited much better character and behavior than some Christian counterparts, then and now. Some character discrepancies still exist if we view our neighbors and some people in the news now. Sometimes I just cringe at what has been done in the name of Christianity!

Well, I do believe that there is only One who is omniscient so I will not even try to unravel this any further. Rather, I will evoke the mystery of faith and the blessing I feel in knowing the Good Shepherd. I trust that the Good Shepherd and the One who is also all-powerful will work out whatever it takes to complete their difficult task. In the meantime, let us all help by imitating the virtues we recognize as being "good" in the eyes of the One who graciously calls us "beloved" rather than acting "holier than thou".

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP
Southern Dominican Laity

Fourth Sunday of Easter April 21, 2024
Good Shepherd Sunday
Acts 4:8-12; Responsorial Psalm 118; 1st John 3:1-2;
Gospel Acclamation John 10:15; John 20:11-18

Just before Jesus identified himself as the Good Shepherd, we heard the narrative of the man born blind. The Pharisees were all in a tizzy because Jesus did this on the Sabbath. Jesus spit on the ground, mixed his spittle with dust, forming a clay he pasted on the sightless eyes of this man. This man was only a beggar. Being sightless he was unable to earn a living; he was a burden. Jesus was confronting the Pharisees about their rigid legalism to give them a lesson. The wonder of this man having sight after washing in the pool of Siloam was lost to them. Because the miracle was on a Sabbath surely this miracle worker was a grave sinner. Certainly, the Pharisees did not think about their own blindness and arrogance in their insistence on the Law of Moses. The Law was their god, not the giver of the Law. There is not record of what they may have done for this blind man before Jesus’ intervention. Did these Pharisees think to empower this blind man to lead him to a sense of his own dignity and worth? Likely not: it is more likely they came to be accustomed to his sitting at the entrance to the temple begging for his food and drink.

Do we see someone suffering and are merely glad we are not them? Do we avoid those in physical or mental trauma because we do not want to be confronted with our vulnerability? What would Jesus do? It is what he did for this blind man. He healed him and brought him into the mainstream of community. We are not in the business of healing unless we are in the medical profession. We can love this person enough to bring him into our community. A greeting and recognition of a person’s God-given dignity and worth are a Christian start.

After the confrontation with the Pharisees, Jesus teaches, describes his mission. He claims to be a good shepherd, one for the welfare and common good of the flock and its individuals. He contrasts himself with the hirelings who are not shepherds at all. They are there to serve their own needs, their aspirations. When threats to the flock or individuals come, the hireling shepherd runs away. The good shepherd stays and guards, protects, and leads to another place.

The message of Jesus comes from the Father. The Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father. It is the Father’s will that his love of the Son is shared with all creation, especially humanity. Creation is God’s expression of God-self. It is the Father’s will and the obedience of the Son that this love is shared with creation. Obedience, in this understanding, is not a matter of willpower but of the movements of the heart. We obey the commandments of the Father because we love, not because we are afraid of the wrath of God. Fear of punishment is the way of a child. God’s commands lead to rightful living which is the foundation of peace of spirit. Loving God unites us to the wonder of creation and especially to the magnificence of the diversity of persons. Each person carries the image and likeness of God. Even though that image and likeness can be dirtied with wrongful attitudes and actions, underneath there remains that unique person who has come into being as an image and likeness of God. When that attitude, that way of living is practiced, a person experiences peace and a quiet joy that even the worst suffering cannot kill. Each bit of suffering is attended to by the Good Shepherd. The suffering ones are returned to the flock to heal, to reconnect, to lush pastures and flowing streams. Therein lies the faith in the Messiah. That faith is challenged by the wolves and lions of worldliness.

Contemporary Pharisees continue to depend on gods of their own making. The God of Christians is the Good Shepherd, the Son of the Father who sends us the Advocate, the Spirit to return us to the flock. The challenge given to the flock is loving others in deed and in truth. We cannot walk by the blind, the lame, the mute and those who cannot hear and dismiss them as burdens to society. We have been washed in the waters of Baptism to see according to the Light that is the Lord. He never resorted to violence – well not entirely true. He was upset because the House of God, the Temple, was being used as a marketplace. The mission of the Messiah is to bring healing and the building up of a Kingdom which runs on love.

Communicating with the Lord daily is an essential way of getting to hear his voice. Starting the day with a “Hello, Lord, Jesus,” taking just a moment to say, “thank you Lord,” before meals, saying in secret “be with me, Lord” when we encounter difficult persons or situations – such simple thoughts coming from the heart establish a connection with the Lord. It is rare that anyone has a vision or an apparition. God’s response comes in a more spiritual manner. We are encouraged quietly, without words, without a written message. There is a written message, the voice of God found in the Scriptures – both Hebrew (Old Testament) and Christian (New Testament). The more we read those, the more we are attentive to their proclamation and explanation at Mass, the more we will hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. We become more of a follower of the Way of Jesus. The experience of following the Command to Love begins to make sense. Our blindness, our deafness, our lameness are progressively mended. We begin seeing as the Good Shepherd sees. Our sufferings – suffering, a part of human living – becomes a way of reaching an enhanced living. We come out of suffering learning of our vulnerability and of God’s help in become someone renewed.

Many persons over the centuries have been tortured and murdered because they loved God’s creation, especially humanity. We think of the age of martyrs as the days of Roman Emperors. Yet, even in our time there are legions of martyrs. In South and Central America many have had their lives taken from them because of loving the poor and indigenous peoples. In the Middle East there are many – Catholic, Reformed Christians, and Muslims who have lost their lives by loving in deed and truth. Those are the martyrs of blood who surrendered their lives by caring for the poor, the persecuted. Who can forget the heroism of the last century in Europe, Japan, in Korea, in Vietnam?

We should not forget those whose lives have been a martyrdom of the non-bloody sort. In a quiet way they followed the example and command to love the Lord gave us. They committed themselves to peace, to empowering the poor and marginalized. They reached out to the persecuted and those enslaved by systemic persecution economically, educationally, and in a lack of access to common health care. They did not run when the enemy came to kill, violate, rob, and torture for an increase of power and domination that is contemporary slavery. We saw in recent history martyrs who gave their life for civil rights, especially of the oppressed. The justice of God is their motivation. They dedicated and surrendered their lives for it. When the justice of God is made present, made effective, that justice leads myriads of people to lush pastures and flowing water. Lives are enriched and they contribute to others their unique talents and insights. God is creator of all – creation is an expression of God’s self. Thus, we say we are in the image and likeness of God. The bloodied and non-bloodied martyrs gave and continue to give their lives in truth and in deed for the marginalized. They understand and are committed to loving and liberating the oppressed. They are making the Love of God real here and now. Their prayer, “thy kingdom come,” is advanced because of their example and efforts. Should we not all join that vast crowd filling the valley of God’s judgment? An advancement of God’s justice is world changing.

Dennis Keller

2024-04-21 Homily 4th SUNDAY OF EASTER Year C
Acts 13:14,43-52; Psalm 100; Rev. 7:9,14-17; John 10:27-30

We are just a few weeks out from Graduation

So Graduates to be ...
I bet you hear a lot of,
“So what comes next?”
“Where are you going from here?”

You may be asking yourself the same questions.
After all, Life IS a journey ...

So graduates to be, My question is,
What have you found the most valuable
of all your college journey?
What do you think is the most lasting and important gift
that college has brought into your life?

I am sure you will find
the skills and knowledge you gained, is valuable.

But what about the friendships that have begun here?

I was reflecting on my own college experience,
and certainly appreciate the knowledge and skills I gained.
And many of the other experiences as well,
even some of the difficult ones.

But my most valued, are the friendships I received.

I was overjoyed recently
when I reconnected with my best friend T. J.
And it was a delight a few years back to catch up with Margie. – we had dated our freshmen year.
And Teresa, who, along with T. J. and Me,
loved to sing and create music together.

One class mate and friend of mine, Bobbie,
along with Janice and Mary, college friends of my sisters.
Are now considered members of our family
and gather with us often and vacation with us.
We all stay connected on our weekly Zoom.

Would you agree with me that the most important element of our Journey in life might be the relationships we build?

In the Gospel,
this is exactly the journey that Jesus presents to us.
It is a journey of relationship,
into “The Relationship” who is God.

He says:
My Sheep hear my voice
I know them, and they follow me
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish
and finally, Jesus points out that
we are secure in him, because “I and the Father are one.”

Jesus did not come
to simply teach us and guide us along the way,

He did not come
to simply free us from sin and death,

He became one of us,
a member of our human family
that we might become one in His divine family:

He came to bring us into the life-giving relationship of the Father, Son and Spirit.

In Jesus, As we choose to listen and follow,
making our relationship with him central and primary,
our earthly relationships are transformed
and become part of our journey in Christ
and our the family of heaven,

Jesus is “the Way, the Truth, the Life.”
He is the path for our journey,
as well as our companion and friend upon it.

Fr. John Boll, OP <>


Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


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