- RESOURCE: At Home with the Word 2018, LTP, pages 154-157 .
- RESOURCE: Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 78-79.
- RESOURCE: Living Liturgy™ Spirituality, Celebration, and Catechesis for Sundays and Solemnities 2018, Liturgical Press, Online Pages 114-117 .
- RESOURCE: The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, litpress.org, pages 43-44.
- RESOURCE: Sacred Reading,The 2018 Guide to Daily Prayer, Apostleship of Prayer, pages 162-163 .
- RESOURCE: Lectio Divina, Magnificat, April 22, 2018, page 347.
- RESOURCE: Magnificat Reflections, April 2018, page 328; pages 331-333.
- RESOURCE: Give Us This Day® Reflections, Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, April, 2018, pages 164-165.
- RESOURCE: Homily For Easter Sunday, Father James Hogan.
- RESOURCE: Holy Father’s Intention For The Month Of April 2018 — The Apostleship of Prayer
- RESOURCE: KNOM Radio Mission’s Monthly Bulletin’s, One-Liners in Faith For April 2018
- RESOURCE: Suggested Prayers of the Faithful: Faith Catholic Online; Daily Prayer 2018; OCP; Magnificat; Liturgical Press.
- RESOURCE: General Intercessions On Easter Vigil, April, 2018 – Cycle B – Saint Peter Parish, Kirkwood
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
AT HOME WITH THE WORD® 2018
April 22, 2018 FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
READING I Acts 4:8-12
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said: “Leaders of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. He is <<the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.>> There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”
RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29 (22)
R: The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. or: Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. R.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me and have been my savior. The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. R.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD; we bless you from the house of the LORD. I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me and have been my savior. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his kindness endures forever. R.
READING II 1 John 3:1-2
Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
GOSPEL John 10:11-18
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”
Practice of Charity
The powerful image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd expresses Christ’s love and care for us, especially in his act of laying down his life for ours. Yet his sacrifice is part of a relationship in which we too have a role to play. In today’s Gospel Jesus emphasizes the importance of a mutual, charitable relationship with him. • What does it mean to have Jesus “know” you? How have you felt his knowing you in the past? Read Psalm 139. How does Christ speak to you in this passage? How does Jesus’ knowing you affect your life today? • Pope Francis spoke of the relationship between Jesus, the Shepherd, and his sheep during his April 17, 2016, Regina Coeli address. Read it here: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news /2016/04/17/full_text_of pope _francis_regina_coeli_address /1223525. • One of the best ways to get to know Jesus is to read the Gospels. Choose your favorite Gospel and reread it, or engage in a parish Bible Study. Notice where and how you come to know Jesus in a new way.
Download more questions and activities for families, Christian initiation groups, and other adult groups at http://www.ltp.org/tproductsupplements.aspx.
Today’s readings crackle with the Apostles’ excitement over the new understandings they were experiencing after the Resurrection and with their work of creating a new way of life, a community of the resurrected Christ—living and life-giving. In the light of Resurrection, Jesus’ words in the Gospel, spoken before the Passion, take on new meaning.
The First Reading is part of a lengthy story that began with Peter healing a crippled man near the Jerusalem Temple and then addressing the people who stood around him, amazed at what he had done. As the crowds continued to grow, Peter and John were arrested, and his accusers demanded to know by whose authority they did such a thing. Peter is answering that question in today’s First Reading. His sense of urgency and conviction ring out as he testifies that “there is no salvation through anyone else.” He is, after all, “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Likewise, in the Second Reading we can hear a deep sense of community identity. Thanks to the loving gift of the Father, which is his Son, we have become “children of God” both now and in the future, when God (or Christ) is fully revealed and we become like him.
In today’s Gospel, John uses the image of the Good Shepherd to explain what it means to be a faith community. It is about our shared trust in Christ who put his life on the line to take care of his flock and keep them secure. It is about a flock that can be open and welcoming to others without fear for its safety, because the one who laid down his life for them has taken it up again as the Father commanded.
- What does the author of the First Reading mean by “the stone rejected by the builders, which has become the cornerstone?”
- How does the Responsorial Psalm help your understanding of the rejected stone becoming the cornerstone?
- Take some time to pray over the Second Reading. How does it speak to you about what it means to be God’s children and, in the end of time, to become like him?
At Home With The Word® 2018, LTP, pages 154-157.
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
SCRIPTURE BACKGROUNDS FOR THE SUNDAY LECTIONARY
FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
The Lord, Our Shepherd LECTIONARY #50B
ACTS 4:8-12 The Fourth Sunday of Easter is also called Good Shepherd Sunday. Every year, the Gospel on this day is taken from the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John, in which Jesus identifies himself as the Good Shepherd. All the readings reflect this aspect of Jesus’ identity. In Acts, Peter explains to the Jewish leaders that the crippled person he cured was healed in Jesus’ name. They had rejected and crucified Jesus, he reminds them, but God raised him up. As a result, the Risen Christ is now the means of healing and salvation for all who believe. Peter connects Jesus with the stone rejected by the builders in Psalm 118. The Jewish leaders—the builders—rejected Jesus, but God raised him up, making him the cornerstone of the building.
The Risen Christ, the Good Shepherd, is now the ultimate and exclusive source of healing and salvation for all. God’s love for humanity, incarnate in Jesus, is extended to all. God’s concern for the rejected stone is the essence of that love, which Jesus clearly manifested in his ministry. His disciples follow through on their master’s call to bring healing and salvation to all, especially the weak, the rejected, and the needy.
PSALM 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29 (22) The refrain from Psalm 118 echoes the theme of the stone rejected by the builders. The readings connect Jesus with the rejected stone, whom God raised up and made the cornerstone. As disciples of Jesus, we also are caught up into God’s covenant love and saving actions. The psalm invites all to give thanks to God whose covenant love (mercy, kindness) endures forever. God alone can be trusted, and we are to take refuge in him. When we are in trouble or feel lonely and rejected, God is there to save and restore us. The Lord accomplishes such wonders before our eyes. The psalm blesses all who come in the name of the Lord, asking all to give thanks to God for being our Savior and restoring us. In the context of Good Shepherd Sunday, the psalm looks to the Risen Lord, raised from death by God, as the living presence of God who cares for all, especially the lost, the rejected, and the oppressed.
1 JOHN 3:1-2 God’s love in Christ has recreated us and made us children of God once more. As a new creation in the Risen Christ, we are called to know and live like him, to take on his values, his mind and heart, and make them our own. The world, understood as the place where God is not known or acknowledged, “does not know us” (v. 1) because it does not know Christ. The manner of Christian living is often in opposition to the manner of the world. As a result, those who live in Christ will be misunderstood, opposed, and rejected. No matter the world’s reaction, we are challenged to remember that we are God’s children now.
As for our final union with God, no one knows what it will be like. What we do know is that our final union with God will be complete and total. We will see and be like God for all eternity. What is demanded of us in the “now; . . . not yet” (v. 2) state that we live is the continual carrying out of the mission of the Good Shepherd, always recognizing him in the poor and rejected.
JOHN 10:11-18 Biblically, shepherds were the leaders, the kings, priests, and prophets who were supposed to facilitate justice and right relationship with God and others. Many were bad shepherds, more concerned with themselves than with God or others. Jesus asserts that he is the Good Shepherd, and that he knows his sheep and they know him.
The biblical meaning of the word know is related to the intimacy of the marriage covenant, in which one knows the other so intimately that one is willing to give all for the other, even one’s life. Jesus’ love is inclusive of all. There are other sheep that do not yet belong to his circle of love. His mission is to search them out and manifest his care and concern for them also, so that all may be one in him. Jesus’ deep love is manifested in his desire to give his lititfor all. Such love does not end in death, but is raised up by God so that all people can experience the reconciling power and intimacy of love. We are called to be good shepherds modeled on Jesus, so that all can experience God’s love, ultimately leading to total union with our Good Shepherd forever.
CONNECTIONS TO CHURCH TEACHING AND TRADITION
♦ “The Church is . . a flock of which God Himself foretold that He would be the shepherd,’ and whose sheep, although watched over by human shepherds, are nevertheless continuously led and nourished by Christ Himself, the Good Shepherd and Prince of shepherds,2 who gave His life for the sheep”‘ (LG, 6).
♦ “The church encompasses with love all who are afflicted with human suffering and in the poor and afflicted sees the image of its poor and suffering Founder. It does all it can to relieve their need” (LG, 8).
♦ “Pity for the needy and the sick and works of charity and mutual aid intended to relieve human needs of every kind are held in highest honor by the Church” (AA, 8).
- Cf. Isaiah 40:11; Exodus 34:11 ff.
- Cf. John 10:11; 1 Peter 5:4.
- Cf. John 10:11-15.
Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 78-79.
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
LIVING LITURGY™ SPIRITUALITY, CELEBRATION, AND CATECHESIS FOR SUNDAYS AND SOLEMNITIES 2018
Reflecting on the Gospel
In the early church, before Jesus was depicted as suffering and dying on the cross, he was depicted as “the Good Shepherd.” This image was central to early Christian identity. We see paintings and even statues of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. The cross seems to have been too painful or too inappropriate to be an effective way to portray Jesus. The Good Shepherd conveyed the Christian message much more clearly.
Today we celebrate “Good Shepherd” Sunday as we read this famous gospel story from John. We are no longer in the realm of resurrection appearance stories, but now we have entered the world of Jesus’ “I AM” parabolic discourse. In John, Jesus doesn’t preach in parables, “The kingdom of God is like . . . a shepherd, a gate, a vineyard, etc.” Instead, we hear Jesus say, “I AM the good shepherd,” or in another passage, “I AM the gate,” or “I AM the vine,” etc. Some scholars call this an “I AM” Christology of the Fourth Gospel because it is used so frequently here, as opposed to the Synoptics. It is true that the Gospel of John has an intense emphasis on the person of Jesus, reflected in a high Christology. The joke is that if you ask Jesus in the Gospel of John how he’s doing, he’ll take two chapters to say he and the Father are just fine.
The image of a shepherd is certainly one rooted in antiquity. There are not as many shepherds today as there were then. And the site of a shepherd was much more common in that culture than it is today.
Yet, even though most of us probably do not know any shepherds, or even seen any recently, we are all familiar with the image. Even Pope Francis spoke about shepherds shortly after he became pope. He spoke about how he wanted priests to have “the smell of the sheep” on them. This kind of graphic, even smelly, analogy offended some
people. One person responded, “That sounds gross! Did he actually say that?” But it is precisely the image Francis meant to convey about whom he wanted as priests, and the language stems from this gospel story about Jesus himself being the Good Shepherd.
Interestingly, Jesus makes a distinction in this discourse about himself as the “good shepherd” and a “hired man” who works for money. The latter has no real concern for the sheep. He is in it only for the pay. Jesus, on the other hand, loves the sheep and has concern for them. He lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand will run away at the first sign of danger. The result of his running away is that the sheep are scattered. As we consider this in our own time we can see the many Christians, many of us, who have been scattered. As we listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd and come to him, we will be reunited.
Living the Paschal Mystery
Though the imagery in today’s gospel may be foreign to our everyday experience, it rings true nonetheless. In some ways the story’s setting sounds similar to a fairy tale with the shepherd, the hired hand, a wolf, and scattered sheep.
But of course, the lessons from this gospel are much more profound than a fairy tale. This gospel tells us that the kingdom of God is not merely like a shepherd and his sheep; but rather, Jesus himself is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. The sheep know his voice. The Good Shepherd smells like the sheep. We can ask ourselves how we attune ourselves to the voice of the Good Shepherd. Where do we hear him calling? Have we been scattered, or are we attentive to the voice and near the Shepherd?
Jesus lays down his life for his sheep but takes it up again. The process does not conclude with the laying down, but culminates in the taking up. And thus we have the paschal mystery.
Focusing the Gospel John 10:11-18
Jesus’ figure of the Good Shepherd is not an idyllic, serene image. Palestinian shepherds were tough, earthy characters who fearlessly swung their staffs (more like clubs than walking sticks) against poachers and wolves. While the shepherd/sheep metaphor is found throughout Scripture, Jesus’ vow to lay down his life for his sheep is something new and likely shocking to his audience. Of course, the image becomes clear in light of the resurrection. But ancient shepherds did not sacrifice their own lives for sheep, even if the sheep were their own! Jesus lays down his life for us, his sheep, and is therefore rightly called the Good Shepherd.
Focusing the First Reading Acts 4:8-12
In chapter 3 of Acts, Peter and John cure a crippled man in the temple precincts and Peter explains to the crowd who had witnessed the healing just who this Jesus is in whose name that healed the man (last Sunday’s first reading). The two are quickly hauled before an angry Sanhedrin who demands an explanation for these rantings about the resurrection of the executed Jesus. Peter responds that in healing the man in the name of Jesus, God manifests the same power he revealed in raising Jesus from the dead. The healing of the crippled man is a sign of God’s salvation of all who believe.
Focusing the Responsorial Psalm Ps 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29 (22)
The antiphon in today’s responsorial psalm, Psalm 118, is quoted by Peter in his sermon in the first reading. The first Christian community prayed the images and the refrain, “for his mercy endures forever,” of Psalm 118 as a thanksgiving for God’s great love manifested in raising Jesus from the dead.
Focusing the Second Reading 1 John 3:1-2
A common theme among Hellenistic religions was that to truly know and understand someone or something was to strive to act “like” them. In today’s second reading, the writer of the First Letter of John teaches that to “know” God is to love one another as he loves us as his sons and daughters. To “know” God’s love makes us more than just faithful adherents but transforms us into “children” of the God that Jesus revealed as “Father.”
Model Rite for the Blessing and Sprinkling of Water
Presider: Dear friends, we will use this water to remind us of our baptisms into the life of the risen Christ. Let us ask God to bless this water and bless all of us, so that, by his grace, we may be recreated in Easter peace. [pause] [continue with The Roman Missal, Appendix II]
- To be a disciple of Jesus is not simply to be a “hired hand” who acts only to be compensated, who is concerned only with his or her own welfare. Christ the Good Shepherd callsus to approach our lives, not with the limited, unfeeling, money-centered self-interest of the hired hand, but with Jesus’ sense of loving, compassionate concern for all men,women, and children. In embracing the gospel attitude of humility and compassion for the sake of others, in “laying down” our own lives for our brothers and sisters, we willone day “take up” our lives again in the Father’s Easter promise.
- The Gospel of the Good Shepherd is a lesson in leadership that is centered in the servanthoodof Jesus. To act in the interest of those in our care, to “freely” place our ownstature at the service of others, is to embrace the model of Christ the Good Shepherd.Christ calls each one of us to realize that the gifts, talents, and abilities that God has entrusted to us are not for our own profit or aggrandizement but to fulfill our vocations as “good shepherds”: to seek out and bring back the lost, scattered, and forgotten; to enable people to move beyond their fears and doubts and realize their own gifts and talents; to bring the peace and justice of God into our own relationships and communities.
- Our lives are filled with noise and distractions and calamities that drown out the voice we desperately strain to hear: the voice of calm, the voice of reason, the voice of assurance, the voice of unconditional and unqualified love. Such is the voice of Jesus the Good Shepherd who speaks to us in the quiet of our hearts, in the unqualified love of family and friends, in the cries of those who call out to us in need. Grace is to hear the Easter Christ’s voice of mercy, justice, and reconciliation amid the demanding and conflicting voices that shout at us every day of our lives.
United under one Shepherd: We continue our Easter mystagogical reflection by breaking open the eucharistic prayer, specifically the section in which we pray for the pope and the local bishop, who are our shepherds under Christ, the Good Shepherd.
We call this part of the eucharistic prayer the intercessions. Here we pray for church members, living and dead. We ask God to remember his church, “spread throughout the world” (Eucharistic Prayer II). Then we recall by name the pope and the bishop of the diocese in which the Mass takes place. We do this not as a simple courtesy of prayer but as an expression and sign of our unity as a church that is called to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. We do not make this prayer alone on our own initiative. We pray it in union with all God’s people throughout history who have been called by the voice of the Shepherd. Our unity is not some abstract connection or idea but is marked by specific persons recognized as shepherds for the people of God. This is why we remember by name the current pope and the local ordinary (the head bishop of the diocese), then in general all the clergy. Every pastor of a parish (a priest or the one designated by the local bishop to serve in that leadership role) promises obedience to the local bishop; and every bishop promises to be of one mind with the bishops of the world, including the pope, preserving communion within the Catholic Church. Then having remembered those who are living, we recall those who have gone before us: our beloved dead and all the saints, with whom we are united in the communion of saints.
Communion is the sign of our unity of mind and action, in obedience to the one Shepherd. This unity is a reality that is present when the church gathers to pray under the leadership of its ministers. Yet it is also a truth we must strive to live daily with the help of the Holy Spirit who binds us together in love. The next time you pray the eucharistic prayer and name the pope and your bishop, pray for true and lasting unityamong all Christians and for charity and respect for all who shepherd us.
About Liturgical Music
In praise of unison singing: Sometimes, singing in unison is seen by choir members as something boring or uninteresting. Indeed, one purpose of the choir is to “enrich the celebration by adding musical elements beyond the capabilities of the congregation alone” (Sing to the Lord, 28). Thus, choral members enhance the beauty of liturgical song by adding harmonies to the song of the assembly. However, the same paragraph of Sing to the Lord also says, “The choir must not minimize the musical participation of the faithful. The congregation commonly sings unison melodies, which are more suitable for generally unrehearsed community singing. This is the primary song of the Liturgy.”
Because music ministers are first assembly members before they are choir members, they should readily and regularly sing in unison with the assembly this primary song of the liturgy. These are times when unison singing by all would be appropriate and desired: when an assembly is still learning a new song; during the first few repetitions of the antiphon of the responsorial psalm or of other refrains; more often during Lent and Advent to contrast the more festive seasons of Easter and Christmas; in later stanzas of hymns to re-energize the voice of the assembly.
Living Liturgy™ Spirituality, Celebration, And Catechesis For Sundays And Solemnities 2018, Liturgical Press, pages 114-117.
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
THE WORD ON THE STREET Sunday Lectionary Reflection
THE SHEPHERD’S LOVE Fourth Sunday of Easter
Readings: Acts 4:8-12; Ps 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18
“The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.” (John 10:13)
In 2 Esdras, a Jewish apocalyptic text of the first century AD, Ezra is asked by “Phaltiel, a chief of the people,” whether he knows “that Israel has been entrusted to you in the land of their exile? Rise therefore and eat some bread, and do not forsake us, like a shepherd who leaves the flock in the power of savage wolves” (5:16-18). The image is similar to that found in the Gospel of John, in which Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.”
In Let the Little Children Come to Me, Cornelia Horn and I wrote that “the account of the Good Shepherd in John 10 offers a theological image of Jesus’ love for his people, but its relevance as a metaphor for Jesus’ love derives from the ability to connect the image to everyday instances taken from life. Jesus is not a ‘hired worker’ (misthõtos),”but rather someone who cares for the sheep, who will lay down his life for the sheep (John 10:1115). What, in contrast, will the hired worker do when the wolf comes? He (or she) will run” ([Washington, DC: CUA Press, 20091, 178).
But the hired hands also function quite clearly on a metaphoric level, which Jesus draws out explicitly. If he is the Good Shepherd, who are the hired hands? They are synonymous, as in 2 Esdras, with Jewish religious authorities who do not care for the sheep as a good shepherd. Based in an actual agricultural image, which ordinary people knew intimately, the condemnation of these hired hands is grounded in day-to-day life.
Jesus cares for the people, the sheep, because they are his sheep and Jesus will protect them. This much is clear, yet the extension of the image seems bizarre, when Jesus says, “And I lay down my life for the sheep.” Are the sheep worth it? Are the sheep worth dying for? And if the shepherd dies for his sheep, who will protect them? This image shines a light on the absurdity of Jesus’ sacrifice for humanity. For this sacrifice makes sense only if through it the flock will be better protected.
And this is the case as Jesus speaks of his death, which will lead to bringing in “other sheep that do not belong to this fold . . . So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” Jesus does speak of laying down his life, but it is “in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” At first blush, dying for the sheep seems to run counter to the goal of caring for the sheep, but it is the reason for the flock’s flourishing today all over the world.
The results are seen when the “rulers of the people and elders” question Peter as to how a lame man was healed; he answers that his restoration to wholeness was “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is / ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; / it has become the cornerstone.’ / There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”
Not only has the Good Shepherd saved the sheep through giving his life up for them, but he has emboldened the flock itself, no longer to be sheep, but “that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are . . . Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.” We have been saved to become children, but our final goal, which we cannot yet fully imagine, is to become like the Good Shepherd.
Reflect on these images: What does it mean for you to be a part of Jesus’ flock? What does it mean to be a child of God? What image speaks to you most fully?
The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, Liturgical Press, pages 43-44.
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
SACRED READING, THE 2018 GUIDE TO DAILY PRAYER
Sunday, April 22, 2018 Fourth Sunday of Easter
Know that God is present and ready to converse.
“Risen Savior, I come to your Word as I come to you. Lead me.
Read the gospel: John 10:11-18.
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
Notice what you think and feel as you read the gospel.
Jesus proclaims himself the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. He does not run away from his own when the wolf comes but protects them with his very life. He knows his own and his own know him, just as he knows and is known by his Father. He has other sheep who will also hear his voice and come, so we may be one flock under one shepherd.
Pray as you are led for yourself and others.
“How beautiful the love between Father and Son, Lord. What happiness! Let me join you in that love and extend it to others, including . . .” (Continue in your own words.)
Listen to Jesus.
Love endures. Love grows by the giving of it. Do not hoard your love, dear one. Give it away irresponsibly, as I have done and do. Love is the substance of eternal life. Join me. What else is Jesus saying to you?
Ask God to show you how to live today.
“Lord, you exhort me to rise above my small and selfish self, to lay down my life as you do. I implore you to help me do it. Let it surprise those who know me and glorify you. Amen.”
Sacred Reading, The 2018 Guide To Daily Prayer, Apostleship of Prayer, pages 162-163.
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
LECTIO DIVINA — A PRAYERFUL READING OF SACRED SCRIPTURE
The Gospel for Fourth Sunday of Easter, Luke 24:35-48
Guide to Lectio Divina
Choose a word or phrase of the Scriptures you wish to pray. It makes no difference which text is chosen, as long as you have no set goal of “covering” a certain amount of text. The amount of text covered is in God’s hands, not yours.
Read. Turn to the text and read it slowly, gently. Savor each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the “still, small voice” of a word or phrase that somehow says, “I am for you today.” Do not expect lightning or ecstasies. In lectio divina, God is teaching us to listen, to seek him in silence. God does not reach out and grab us but gently invites us ever more deeply into his presence.
Ponder. Take the word or phrase into yourself. Memorize it and slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories, and ideas. Do not be afraid of distractions. Memories or thoughts are simply parts of yourself that, when they rise up during lectio divina, are asking to be given to God along with the rest of your inner self. Allow this inner pondering, this rumination, to invite you into dialogue with God.
Pray. Whether you use words, ideas, or images—or all three—is not important. Interact with God as you would with one who you know loves and accepts you. Give to God what you have discovered during your experience of meditation. Give to God what you have found within your heart.
It is not necessary to assess the quality of your lectio divina, as if you were “performing” or seeking some goal. Lectio divina has no goal other than that of being in the presence of God by praying the Scriptures.
LUKE DYSINGER Luke Dysinger, OSB, is a Benedictine monk of Saint Andrew’s Abbey, Valyermo, California. Give Us This Day® 2018 Reflection, Liturgical Press, page 347.
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
Fourth Sunday of Easter
To “take refuge in the Lord,” the Good Shepherd, we must face the predicament of our powerlessness, our extreme limitations, and our need to follow someone if we want to experience true fulfillment in our life. Unlike literal sheep, we are aware of the risk that our Shepherd takes: ‘A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” Therefore we exclaim, “See what love the Father has bestowed on us!” More than merely knowing the Shepherd’s voice, we know his name “by which we are to be saved.” Because we agree to be sheep, “we are God’s children now.” Magnificat, April 2018, page 328.
The Mystery of the Good Shepherd
Jesus Is the Good Shepherd because of the fact that he gives us his life to the father in this way: giving it back in sacrifice, he lays it down for the sheep.
Here we enter the field of a splendid and fascinating simile, already so dear to the Old Testament prophets. Here are the words of Ezekiel: For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out…I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down (Ez 34:11, 15; cf. Jer 31:31).
Taking up this image again, Jesus revealed an aspect of the Good Shepherd’s love that the Old Testament had not yet divined: to lay down one’s life for the sheep.
As is known, Jesus often used parables in his teaching to make the divine truth which he proclaimed comprehensible to people who were generally simple and accustomed to think by means of images. The image of the Pastor and of the fold was familiar to the experience of his listeners, as it still is to the mind of modern man. Even if civilization and technique are progressing by leaps and bounds, this image, however, is still present in our state of affairs. The shepherds take the sheep to the pastures (as, for example, on the Polish mountains where I come from) and remain there with them during the summer. They accompany them from one pasture to another. They watch them so that they do not go astray, and in particular they defend them from wild animals.
The Good Shepherd, according to Christ’s words, is just he who, seeing the wolf come, does not flee, but is ready to risk his own life, struggling with the beast of prey so that none of the sheep will be lost. If he were not ready to do so, he would not be worthy of the name of Good Shepherd. He would be a hireling, but not a shepherd.
This is Jesus’ allegorical discourse. Its essential meaning lies precisely in this, that the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (Jn 10:11); and this, in the context of the events of Holy Week, means that Jesus, dying on the cross, laid down his life for every human being and for all people.
He alone could do it; he alone could bear a whole world’s weight, the load of a guilty world, the burden of man’s sin, the accumulated debt, past, present, and to come; the sufferings which we owed but could not pay; in his own body on the tree of the cross (1 Pt 2:24) through the eternal spirit offering himself without spot to God… to serve the living God (Heb 9:14). Such was the deed of Christ, who gave his life for everyone: and therefore he is called the Good Shepherd (Blessed John Henry Newman).
By means of the paschal sacrifice, all people became his fold—because he has ensured to each one that divine and supernatural life which, since man’s fall, owing to Original Sin, had been lost. He alone was able to restore it to man.
SAINT JOHN PAUL II Saint John Paul 11 († 2005) reigned as pope from 1978 unti1 2005. Magnificat, April 2018, pages 331-333.
HOW THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLD ♦ Gold Out of Rome ♦ Anthony Esolen
A YOUNG BOY SITS AT A DESK, his chin propped on his fists. He peers over a papyrus upside-down, while a man in the full vigor of middle age, his pen in hand and his brow contracted, scratches out just the right word to finish a line of fiery dactylic hexameter, the great epic meter of ancient Greece and Rome. “What may I do for you, young Ambrosianus?” he says, cocking his head and squinting one eye, as if to get a better sense of the music of what he has just penned. “Master,” says the boy, “I have a question.” “Ask, then.” The master taps out with one finger the rhythm of the next line he has in mind, then shakes his head and tries another. “You’re writing a poem against the senator Symmachus, who has demanded that the statue to the goddess of Victory be retained in the Senate house.” “That I am,” says the poet. “You’re writing it in the same meter that Virgil used for his Aeneid, to celebrate the founding of the Roman people.” “That I am,” says the poet. “But the Romans were pagans.” “That they were.” “Then I don’t understand.”
† THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD †
At that the Christian poet Aurelius Clemens Prudentius laid down his pen and looked up, warming to the discus¬sion, because it touched upon the great ambition of his life. “Would you prefer, Ambrosianus, to dwell among the beer-guzzling pagans of the far north, where sometimes in winter the sun hardly shines, there are no senate houses at all, or cities, or aqueducts, or even roads, and even the chieftains have to take off their shoes to count to twenty?”
The boy laughed. “Not me!” he said. “I like the sunshine.”
“And the roads, and the laws, and the peace?”
“I guess so,” said the boy, for whom laws and peace were not the most exciting things in the world.
“You prefer not to be a bar-bar-barbarian?” said Prudentius, making as if to speak a language that sounded like blah-blah-blah.
The boy laughed again. “Who wants to be a bar-barbarbarian? Once I saw a big yellow-haired fellow in the market who didn’t know where to go, but all at once he—” Prudentius interrupted him. “That will be enough of that,” he said.
“I still don’t understand. The Germans are pagans, and Symmachus is a pagan, yet you write against Symmachus in the pagan way, while you would never write against the Germans in the German way.”
“I do not speak their language,” said Prudentius.
“And you do speak Latin.”
“Not only do I speak Latin,” said the poet, “I’m delighted to speak it. It is a gift. So too this music I’m using is a gift. Rome is a gift.”
“But Rome murdered Saint Peter and Saint Paul.”
“Yes, Rome did that, and much more.”
“I still don’t understand.”
“Ambrosianus,” said the poet, “let’s suppose that the Christ had not been born in Bethlehem during the days of Caesar Augustus. Where and when would you have had him born instead? Keep in mind that he comes to us in the midst of our wickedness and desolation. Would you have had him born among the barbarians of the north? Or the sunburnt Garamantians of the south? Or in farthest India? Or when Carthage and her child-murdering ministers governed Our Sea?” “No, not when you put it that way.”
“He had to be born at some time, in some place,” says the poet. “We must believe that it lay in the providence of the Father that the Incarnate Word should dwell among us at just that time, and in just that place.” “Why do you think he chose them?”
“Do you believe I can fathom the mind of God?” the poet smiled. “But perhaps it was that the true Prince of Peace would be born at a time of peace, and even though the Romans put Peter and Paul to death, it was the Roman law to which Paul appealed, and it was Roman government that gave the Apostles the liberty to preach far and wide. The Greeks had their wisdom, and the Romans had the power and the law, and Christians had the truth that the Greeks couldn’t reach, and the eternal law that the Romans didn’t know.”
“Is that why you write in the Roman way?” “Why not? I too am a Roman,” he said, exaggerating just a little his native Spanish accent.
† OF THE FATHER’S LOVE BEGOTTEN †
The boy pressed on. “Symmachus says that you are no true Roman, because if you were you wouldn’t wish the statue to Victory to be removed.” “Symmachus is confused. He wants to retain the lesser when the greater has been given.” “That’s like wanting to remain a barbarian,” said the boy. “Ambrosianus, you are a clever fellow!” said the poet. “As the Roman is to the barbarian, so is the Christian to the Roman, and more. You see,” he went on, “just as God made the whole world from nothing, to grow little by little from the smallest seeds of things that he willed into being, so the Word came among us as a little child, at the perfect time, when the world was made ready for him little by little.”
“Master, I can recite the song you wrote about that,” said the boy, standing up and brightening, delivering the first stanza of Corde natus ex parentis:
Of the Father’s love begotten, Ere the worlds began to be, he is Alpha and Omega,he the source, the ending he, Of the things that are, that have been, And that future years shall see, Evermore and evermore!
“Splendid!” said Prudentius. “Can you recite for me the stanza that bears most upon our little discussion?” The boy thought about it for a while. “They all do,” he said, “but this one most.” And he continued:
This is he whom seers in old time, Chanted of with one accord, Whom the voices of the prophets, Promised in their faithful word. Now he comes, the long-expected; Let creation praise its Lord, Evermore and evermore!
“You have a beautiful voice, Ambrosianus, and a mind beyond your years. Thank you for that recitation. I am quite moved.” The boy blushed. “I know another of your hymns,” he said, and began with the first stanza:
Salvete, flores martyrum, Quos lucis ipso in limine, Christi insecutor sustulit Ceu turbo nascentes rosas.
Which is, in English: All hail, ye infant martyr flowers! Cut off in life’s first dawning hours, As rosebuds, snapped in tempest’s strife, When Herod sought your Savior’s life.
When he finished, the boy said, “Master, the little children whom Herod slaughtered were the first witnesses of Christ, and they paid for it with their blood. So I have been taught.”
“You have been taught well,” said Prudentius.
“They were not soldiers, but we honor them as if they had been.”
“That’s true, and we ought to honor them so. Think of the honor that we give to the man who lays down his life for the emperor on earth. How much more then should we honor them who do the same for the emperor of all the universe?”
“Even if they were small?” “Especially because they were small.”
† PATRIOT AND POET †
Rome, in her old age, Prudentius wrote, had finally turned red in the face for her past and her pagan ways, and for the blood of innocents that had filled the ditches round her cities’ walls. Those were the words of a man who loved his native land, because when we love, we want the best for the beloved, not the worst. We want truth, not falsehood. We want salvation and victory, not a pat on the head and a sham.
Because he was a patriot, Prudentius did not hesitate to adopt for his Christian purposes the great heritage of poetry with which his native tongue endowed him. This was not to use something alien in the service of the Church. That is because Christ is the Savior of all people, the “desire of nations,” in the womb Rome finally became what God had intended her to be. What might be the lesson for us in the modern world? The Church did not heave overboard the artistic traditions and the philosophical learning of the pagans before her. She was not a modernist despiser of all things past. She did not reinvent the wheel simply because an unnamed pagan had invented it before her.
Nor did she merely accept that heritage only to put a Christian veneer upon it. She preserved and transformed; she judged, leaving the worthless but exalting what war-ranted respect and reverence. In the battle for the imagi¬nation of Rome, Symmachus represented the past, and so did Prudentius, but Prudentius did so in the happy hope of eternal life in Christ.
He was the first great poet of Christian Rome. Who will be the Prudentius of our time, a time as cruel as that of pagan Rome, without the reverence and the piety? Let the new poets come, Lord, and the artists, and the philosophers. We need them more than ever.
(Anthony Esolen is professor and writer-in-residence at Thomas More College in N.H., translator and editor of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House), and author of The Beauty of the Word: A Running Commentary on the Roman Missal (MAGNIFICAT).
Magnificat, April 2018, pages 214-219.
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
GIVE US THIS DAY® REFLECTION
Reflection – Life in the Present Tense
The resurrection places Jesus on this side of the grave—here and now—in the midst of this life. He is not standing on the shore of eternity beckoning us to join him there. He is standing beside us, strengthening us in this life. The good news of the resurrection of Jesus is not that we shall die and go home with him, but that he has risen and comes home with us, bringing all his hungry, naked, thirsty, sick, prisoner brothers with him.
And we say, “Jesus, we’d be glad to have you, but all these motley brothers of yours, you had better send them home. . . ”
The resurrection is simply God’s way of saying, “You might reject me if you will, but I’m going to have the last word. I’m going to put my son right down there in the midst of you and he’s going to dwell among you from here on out.”
On the morning of the resurrection, God put life in the present tense, not in the future. He gave us not a promise but a presence. Not a hope for the future but power for the present. Not so much the assurance that we shall live someday but that he is risen today. Jesus’ resurrection is not to convince the incredulous nor to reassure the fearful, but to enkindle the believers. The proof that God raised Jesus from the dead is not the empty tomb, but the full hearts of his transformed disciples. The crowning evidence that he lives is not a vacant grave, but a spirit-filled fellowship. Not a rolled-away stone, but a carried-away church.
CLARENCE JORDAN, The Substance of Faith and Other Cotton Patch Sermons. Clarence Jordan (1912-1969), a farmer and New Testament Greek scholar, was the founder of Koinonia Farm, a small but influential religious community in southwest Georgia. He was also instrumental in founding Habitat for Humanity.
Give Us This Day® 2018, Liturgical Press, pages 164-165.
April 15-22, 2018 Third Week of Easter
Reflection — Of Caterpillars and Butterflies
Jesus is saying that the Father is seized with love, admiration, gratitude to him because he lays down his life fully. Why should the Father be so enamoured of this act of Jesus laying down his life, accepting to die?
In the first place because the Father can only find an outlet for his love when a human creature consents to die to his own limited, merely natural life.
The condition for being transformed into God’s likeness, for entering into his own dimension is—being ready to go beyond ourselves, allowing ourselves to be taken away from self, consenting to leave the limitations of our merely natural being.
This acceptance of dying has to be done in the dark, in blind trust in the promise of the Father.
The dimension into which we are called is “God”: so “other,” so mysterious as to be beyond thought or imagination; and therefore, in a sense, meaningless to us.
We live a caterpillar existence and are completely incapable of conceiving of a butterfly existence. It is an awful thing to be told—or rather asked—to be willing to die to our caterpillarness in order to be something we have no notion of and no desire for.
We like being caterpillars—we have cabbage leaves to feed on, our world is circumscribed and manageable, it’s solid. “What’s all this about a new way of being . . . ? Flitting about in the air . . . ? No thanks—I’d rather be as I am!”
God’s agonizing struggle is to get his human creatures to love and trust him enough to make the decision, to accept to die to their caterpillar life . . .
But Jesus accepted. This is the great triumph. He accepted, with all the adoring love of his heart, to lay down his life. This act was his supreme expression of the greatness of his love for his Father—that he, the Father, mattered alone, and that all Jesus wanted was to do his will, and to allow the Father to do in him and through him whatever he pleased.
And it is then God’s good pleasure to fill his creature with blessings.
RUTH BURROWS, Living Love. Ruth Burrows, a Carmelite nun at Quidenham Monastery in Norfolk, England, is the author of several best-selling books on spirituality and prayer.
Give Us This Day® 2018 Reflection, Liturgical Press, pages 234-235.
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
HOMILY FOR EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 1, 2018
Father James J. Hogan, Missoula, Montana
Acts 10: 34-43 + Colossians 3: 1-4 + Mark 16: 1-8 Easter B ’18
Last week I participated in the “March For Our Lives”—one of 800,000 plus people gathered in Washington, DC. One of the survivors of the shooting at Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida reminded us it took a gunman 6 1/2 minutes to shoot and kill 17 students in her school. She stood at the microphone, named the seventeen, and invited us to 6 1/2 minutes of silence. We – 800,000 plus did just that! That entire experience renewed my conviction that “Christ is risen! (Truly he is Risen!). It renewed my conviction that we are the Living Body of Christ!
Our gospel reading was from Mark — the first of the four gospels. The text proclaimed among us generally is accepted as the original ending of Mark. We can learn from Mark’s brief and simple conclusion.
According to Mark, after Jesus died, there was not sufficient time to anoint his body. It was removed from the cross as the Sabbath began, placed on a shelf in the tomb, and a circular stone was rolled across the entry.
The events narrated by Mark began on the day after the Sabbath. “Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, the three women brought spices to the tomb to anoint his body.” “They asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away?’
When Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome arrived at the tomb, they were shocked. Nothing was as expected. Upon entering the tomb, they heard a young man say, “He has been raised; he is not here.” The three women were seized by “terror and amazement.” “They fled from the tomb.” “They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Fear and amazement pervade their experience.
In the original, Mark ends his gospel with four simple words: “He has been raised.” In these words Mark affirms and legitimates the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. But these words say more than that.
Note that Mark records no “appearance narratives.” Later editors considered his conclusion unsatisfactory. They took editorial license to create what they considered a more acceptable ending, by adding four appearances of the risen Lord recorded in the other gospels.
“He has been raised.” That is the core of Mark’s message. That is what the discipItts saw and how they were compelled to express their experience. The simplicity of the text points to the “lived history” behind Mark’s narrative.
Couple Mark’s four simple words “He has been raised” with our own “lived history.” This becomes our sure guide in our struggle to clarify “what we actually believe.”
They mean the Gracious Mystery we name God has begun something new in the Risen One that affects everything and everyone. They mean that all of us since our earliest ancestors six million years ago, on into our unknown future, now are involved in the process of resurrection.
They mean “God’s new reality” has emerged definitively in our world. They mean that in the Risen One, something that affects everything in the Cosmos has begun. God’s new creation, which is the goal of all history, has begun! That is what we actually believe when we affirm that, “Christ is risen! (Truly he is Risen!)
While the Risen One is beyond our ability to see, touch or hear physically, we believe the Risen One dwells among us and in us, and we in him. I experienced the Risen One in “The March for Our Lives.” I experience the Risen One in you when we gather around this Table, and in you! My “lived history” leads me to believe and affirm that, “Christ is risen! (Truly he is Risen!) Happy Easter!
Second Sunday of Lent February 25, 2018
Since I gave my homily last Sunday at the 7:30 and 9: 00 Masses some have requested to have a copy of it. Others, who did not hear it, heard about it and also wanted a copy. I offer it to you for your prayer and reflection…
“Sir Winston Churchill took three years getting through eighth grade because he had trouble learning English grammar. It seems ironic that years later Oxford University asked him to address its commencement exercises and its graduates. He arrived with his usual props: A cigar, a cane, and top hat that accompanied Churchill wherever he went. As Churchill approached the podium, the crowd rose in appreciative applause. Removing the cigar and carefully placing the top hat on the podium, Sir Winston gazed at his waiting audience. Authority rang in Churchill’s voice as he shouted, “Never give up!” Several seconds passed before he rose to his toes and repeated, “Never give up!” His words thundered in their ears. There was a deafening silence as Churchill reached for his hat and cigar, steadied himself with his cane and left the podium. His commencement address was finished.
The word Satan in Hebrew means “The Adversary.” Satan becomes the essence of everything that is against God. When we turn to the New Testament we find that is the devil or Satan who is behind human disease and suffering. It is Satan who seduces Judas. It is Satan whom we must fight. It is Satan whose power is being broken by the works of Christ. It is Satan who is destined for final destruction. Satan is the power which is against the things of God. The word devil (diabolo in Italian) means “The Scatterer,” the slanderer.
Here we have the essence of the temptation story. Jesus had to decide how he was to do his work. He was conscious of a tremendous task and he was also conscious of his tremendous power. God was saying to him: Take my love to my people; love them till you die on the cross for them. Win them by this unconquerable love even when you end up on a cross.
So the devil was saying to Jesus: Use your power to blast people, obliterate your enemies. Win the world by might and power and control and bloodshed. Scatter people.
God said to Jesus: Set up a kingdom of love and justice and integrity and gospel peace (which is everything that works for the highest good).
The devil said to Jesus: Set up a dictatorship of force. Divide and scatter!
Never give in to the “Scatterer!” He wants you to give in and give up. So I want to talk to you about two concerns that, at times, appear hopeless to being resolving and it is easy to give in and give up to the “Scatterer.”
In the first reading today from Genesis God made a covenant with Noah. The covenant established between God and Noah is with all the people, without exception, no one is excluded. It is totally inclusive to all the faithful to be loyal to this inherited sacred agreement. Thus, we must be inclusive, too. I want to talk about these two concerns where “The Scatterer” is at play.
The first is racism: a subject that is all about exclusion. Racism is destructive. Racism is disruptive. Racism is the work of “The Scatterer.” Racism is the belief in the superiority of one race over another, which often results in discrimination and prejudice and exclusion based on one’s race, color of skin and ethnicity. It is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust, and dangerous and there is no justification for racial discrimination for the Christian in theory or in practice. It is NOT of the gospel. It is of the devil. Thus it is meant to divide and scatter.
Story: I remember the story of George Washington Carver, the great Missouri peanut farmer/scientist, when he appeared before the Ways and Means Committee in Congress in 1921 when he was 57 years old. First of all they delayed his hearing for days. He had to sit and wait. Finally, when they called him up to the podium to speak, as he was walking up the aisle a Southern senator bellowed out, “I don’t think that this (N-word) has anything to say to us and is a waste our time.”
George Washington Carver was stung by the comment and was seriously tempted to turn around and just give in and give up. But…he remembered what his mother constantly reminded him, “George, never forget that you are a child of God so don’t you ever let anyone else define you and tell you who and what you are.” He kept going down the aisle and repeated his mother’s mantra up to the podium. When he reached the site he started his talk about his scientific findings and his theories as a scientist. He took his one-half hour and was granted an extension of another half hour. After four such extensions he concluded to thunderous applause… and acclaim.
Never give in to “The Scatterer.” Most of us here don’t know what it is like to wake up each day Black in our culture and in our society or to live as a Black person or a person of color in our city or to be in the work place or in the country as a person of color. And most of us don’t really know what it is like to have a racist remark thrown our way or to be profiled on the street or in a department store simply because of our race and the color of our skin.
What we do know is that we all must get to know each other better, talk to one another more, seek a clearer understanding of each other, and to work constantly for unity among us. We must find common ground, and common prayer, and common sense. In our city, at least, we must work for better educational opportunities for the Black community and end poverty not with more government programs but by developing a large and vibrant Black middle class and minority population here. Education is the goal and good jobs will follow. Let’s start the conversation about making unity happen between our City and our County and to think more regionally. A good part of our race issues here are socio-economic, and that, too, is holding us back. And finally, pray for each other every day… give it to God… and ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the unifier.
And never give in or give up to “The Scatterer!”
The second is the violence in our society and the use of handguns, assault guns meant to kill people and meant for the military in the battlefield… especially in light of the Florida School Shooting last Wednesday, where 17 lives were lost. This was the 18th School shooting since the first of the year in our land. For me to ignore such violence in our society this Sunday is to pretend that “there is no elephant in the room.”
I saw a balanced editorial in the Post-Dispatch on Friday. It commented on the country’s sense of despair and hopelessness as these senseless mass shootings from Sandy Hook Elementary School with its tiny victims to the slaughter in Las Vegas last Fall. It spoke of the empty rhetoric from our nation’s leaders to do something about it, to try to fix a systemic problem. So many questions and so far, at least, no real solid answers or solutions. So the country waits and gets angrier, more despairing, and even hardened to such violence in the news since it happens so often. But the editorial concluded with a challenge and a positive tone: Let’s find common ground for dialogue and starting points both from the gun advocates and those who want more controls. It offered some suggestions: “Maybe we start with an agreement on universal background checks, longer waits for purchases and aggressive reports to law enforcement about troubled individuals. I add to that a banning of all assault weapons. It may take some time, but dialogue is the key, begin the conversation and reach common ground for solutions. Be reasonable in our approach to this issue. Finally, pray that all sides listen to each other, work together toward solutions. Being so polarized is not working! It is the work of “The Scatterer.”
Let not indifference or despair or hopelessness win out. So “Never Give Up!” And Never give in to the devil, the one who scatters!”
Monsignor Jack 1-3-5, St. Peter Church, Kirkwood, Missouri
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
Blessing for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
Pope Francis has decided to institute in the Catholic Church an annual “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” to be celebrated on September 1. Pope Francis explains: As Christians, we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation. We need always to keep in mind that, for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for our sake, “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us” (Laudato Si’, 216). The ecological crisis thus summons us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them” (ibid., 217). For “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (ibid.).
A Prayer by Pope Francis
from the Encyclical Laudato Si’
Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you! Son of God, Jesus, through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature in your risen glory.
Praise be to you! Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!
Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.
God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good,
advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
0 Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you! Amen.
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
HOLY FATHER’S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR APRIL 2018:
APOSTLESHIP OF PRAYER REFLECTION FOR APRIL
For Those Who Have Responsibility In Economic Matters. That economists may have the courage to reject any economy of exclusion and know how to explore new ways forward.
Reflection by Fr. Joe Laramie, SJ*
On TV and on the internet, we see daily headlines about the economy. The Dow Jones reached another new high,” or the economy sputtered again today.” I often feel confused and overwhelmed by these stories. What is the economy? Who is in charge? Am I powerless to change it? It can seem that the economy is a sort of giant dragon that needs to be fed—tax, regulations, innovations, new markets, and more. When it is fed, it’s happy, and grows fatter. If it isn’t, then it breathes fire, wipes out a few thousand jobs, and demands more food for tomorrow. Is this how the economy really works? Is this how it has to work?
This month, Pope Francis asks us to pray, “For those who have responsibility in economic matters. That economists may have the courage to reject any economy of exclusion and know how to explore new ways forward.” Economists have an important role to play in the world today. Often they are college professors and researchers. They serve as advisors to businesses and government leaders. They identify and shape trends and new approaches. They impact everyone-7.5 billion of us—each day. They often feel pressure to make ‘short term gains’ to satisfy CEOs and stockholders. But these gains can be like cutting down an apple tree for quick lumber—at the cost of losing years of juicy fruits.
Part of the problem is our way of looking at the economy. Are record stocks and GDPs our constant goals? Can we ever tame the beast? Perhaps we need a new way to look at the situation. Maybe the economy is not a dragon but more like a garden—where everyone is called to work and everyone is invited to eat. Different laborers have different roles: weeding, plowing, harvesting, packing, overseeing.
Regarding the economy, Pope Francis writes, “Authentic human development has a moral character. It presumes full respect for the human person, but it must also be concerned for the world around us… Accordingly, our human ability to transform reality must proceed in line with God’s original gift of all that is” [Laudato Si, #5].
The economy ought to serve humanity, instead of humanity serving the economy. Economists must be bold and creative to help us envision new ways of ‘growing’ the global garden. In prayer and action, we can support them in this holy, living enterprise.
Who seems to gain the most from the USA economy? Who seems to gain the least? What could be done to help more people to contribute and share in the ‘fruits of our economic garden?’ What is one thing I can do to contribute to an ‘economy of inclusion?’ Examples: help with job training programs for the poor/elderly; support local businesses that employ local workers; volunteer at schools/churches in poor/isolated areas…
Revelation 12:7-10 His angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed.—
Prayer of the Month
Almighty God, You have granted Your Church the light and strength to accompany humanity on its earthly journey towards its eternal destiny. In this Third Millennium too, the Church will be faithful in making man’s way her own, knowing that she does not walk alone, but with Christ her Lord. It is Christ who made man’s way his own, and who guides him, even when he is unaware of it.
Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, you constantly remained beside Christ in his journey towards the human family and in its midst, and you go before the Church on the pilgrimage of faith. May your maternal intercession accompany humanity in this Millennium, in fidelity to Him who is the same yesterday and today and forever,” Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
[from final page of the encyclical on labor and the economy. Centesimus Annus, by St. John Paul II. 1991].
Saint of the Month St. George. feast April 23rd
St. George is often portrayed in battle armor, slaying a dragon. He was a Roman soldier who died as a Christian martyr under the Emperor Diocletian in the year 303.
St. George is honored for his faith and bravery by Christians around the world, particularly in England—and even by some Muslims and other non-Christians.
An ancient legend states that a dragon guarded a spring near a small village. Without water, the villagers would die of thirst. So, they offered sheep to the dragon each day in exchange for water. The dragon’s size and appetite only grew—so that he demanded more sheep, larger sheep, and eventually the villager’s daughters! George bravely slew the beast, freeing the villagers from its claws. Some historians wonder if the ‘dragon’ was actually a crocodile, a wolf, or some other creature.
For the pope’s worldwide prayer intention this month, we call upon St. George to help us ‘slay’ our limited vision of the economy. Like the villagers, we can remain captives of our own fears and assumptions. Christ and the saints show us that a courageous faith is a pathway to peace and life. “St. George. pray for us to share in your love and bravery! Pray for our leaders and our economists, that they may share in the hope of Christ. Amen.”
Daily Offering Prayer
God, our Father, I offer You my day. I offer You my prayers, thoughts, words, actions, joys, and sufferings in union with the Heart of Jesus, who continues to offer Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit, who guided Jesus, be my guide and my strength today so that I may witness to Your love. With Mary, the mother of our Lord and of the Church, I pray for all Apostles of Prayer and for this month’s intentions proposed by the Holy Father. Amen.
Traditional Offering Prayer
0 Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
To register as a member of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, or to subscribe to our monthly communications, please visit our website at popesprayerusa.net/join/. Thank you for your generous support of our ministry.
Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network:
UNITED STATES | CANADA APOSTLESHIP OF PRAYER
1501 S Layton Blvd
Milwaukee, WI 53215-1924
Copyright 2018: Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network Item #500
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
KNOM RADIO MISSIONS ONE-LINERS for APRIL 2018,
RESOURCE: KNOM Radio Mission’s Monthly Bulletins, provided the following One-Liners in Faith For April 2018
On this day: Mend a quarrel. Dismiss a suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter to someone who misses you. Encourage someone. Keep a promise. Examine your demands on others. Express your gratitude. Overcome a fear. And show someone you love them. And do it again, and again, and again…
The Iditarod Trail is marked by sturdy tripods. Each post must be the same length, or the tripod will topple in the wind.
Three equal posts fastened together form one tripod. So it is with the Blessed Trinity: three Persons in one God.
“That economists may have the courage to reject any economy of exclusion and know how to open new paths.” — Pope Francis’ prayer intention for April 2018
“Christ bids us bring His Peace to the world. We are called to pass on the healing we have experienced and the reconciliation we have been given so lavishly.” — Saint Pope John Paul II
Being at peace with yourself is the direct result of being at peace with God.
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
SUGGESTED INTERCESSIONS FOR FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER APRIL 22, 2018
(Each local community should compose its own Universal Prayer, but may find inspiration in the texts proposed here.)
FOR THE CHURCH
For the bishops, the shepherds of the Church: that they will be filled with the zeal and fervor of divine love,
For all who teach, counsel, and minister in our church, that they may be inspired in their
service by the example of Jesus, the Good Shepherd,
That pastors and ministers guide their flocks with tender care,
That young people preparing for confirmation and graduation be strengthened for a life of loving service through the anointing of the Holy Spirit,
For Pope Francis and all leaders in the Church, may they continue to witness with the heart of the Good Shepherd,
For the leaders of our Church throughout the world, may their model of servant leadership strengthen us in our mission of evangelization,
For all members of the Church, may we always trust in God’s abiding love to guide us and keep us strong as we work to spread the Gospel,
That all members of the Church may, like Saint Mark the Evangelist, joyfully proclaim the Good News of the Gospel,
That the life of the Church may be manifest by our works of corporal and spiritual mercy,
That all members of the Church may continue to bear abundant fruit to build God’s kingdom on earth,
That, empowered by God’s presence working through them, bishops, priests and deacons may inspire others to embrace the Good News of God’s love,
For those in our parish struggling with disbelief, may their faith be awakened by the voice of our Good Shepherd,
That all who are baptized come to a deeper knowledge of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd,
That those who shepherd us in the Church may reek of the sheep they shepherd,
That disagreements in the Church will be collegial and respectful,
That we may be able to realize the grace God sends our way,
That people will know the Good News by the joy in our lives,
That members of the Body of Christ will realize their call to discipleship,
That pastors will assist parishioners in appreciating their religious ancestors,
That we may trust that Christ has prepared a place for us,
That priests and lay ministers will bear witness to loving collaboration as they labor together as coworkers in the vineyard of the Lord,
For our hospitality ministers, that they offer a welcoming greeting to friend and stranger,
For our pope, that he continues to show us the way to reach out to people of other faiths and cultures,
That all who were baptized may feel more fully their ties to Jesus Christ, the true Vine,
That lay ministers will see their service as a gift from God,
That our priests will nourish their parishioners’ hunger for Scripture,
FOR THE WORLD
That those who govern will favor the paths of dialogue, reconciliation, and commitment to peace,
For all who lead, manage, and govern, that they may exercise their responsibilities in the
Good Shepherd’s spirit of selflessness and sacrifice,
That governments carefully guard the safety and quality of food and water,
That we will exercise our responsibility to participate in the social life of our nation to ensure that laws do not violate the right to life,
For police officers, firefighters, emergency personnel, military members, and all who risk their lives every day for our safety and protection, that God will be with them in their generous and selfless service,
For judges and magistrates whose decisions affect the lives of many, may the Holy Spirit guide them to embrace the principles of fairness and mercy,
For decision-makers and others in leadership positions, may they follow the guiding principles of the Gospel message as they create policies and enforce laws,
For nations troubled by war and violence, may God bring them the light of peace to dawn in their midst,
That all people may appreciate the beauty and riches of the earth, given to us by our Creator, and use them for our common good,
That the Lord may lead all nations to understand the need for cooperation and reconciliation to resolve global problems,
That government and cultural leaders may foster and model kindness and justice as we strive to live in fellowship with others,
That leaders in all levels of government, inspired by the loving witness of the faithful, may work for justice and protect the rights of all, especially the unborn,
That people of every nation will discover ways to bring peace with justice into our world,
That diplomats will seek the truth in every encounter,
That world leaders will help see what unites them despite their differences,
That legislators will listen to the voices of those they serve,
That legislators will work for justice for the oppressed,
That people of every nation will discover ways to bring peace with justice into our world,
For leaders in our community, that they will work to unite people of diverse backgrounds,
That our leaders in the Church will remain fully engrafted to Jesus Christ,
That people of every nation will discover their interconnectedness so that they might bring peace with justice into our world,
FOR THE OPPRESSED / ANY NEED
For those who have gone astray like sheep: that they will hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, the guardian of their souls,
That Christians spread the peace of Christ and the joy of Easter in every time and place,
For all those who feel lost or abandoned, may they feel the presence of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, in their lives,
For those who suffer loneliness or despair, may they feel relief and comfort from others who reach out to them,
For those who face discrimination because of their belief in Christ, may they be treated with the dignity God bestows on all people,
That those whose lives are tested by worry and burdens may find strength and consolation in Jesus, the Suffering Servant,
That those needing material, emotional or spiritual support may find the healing sustenance they need through the loving outreach of our faith community,
That those seeking work will find steady employment,
That those unfairly accused will be given a forum to speak,
That those who seek an education will find funds to pursue their dreams,
That those who struggle to shelter their families will find relief,
That those who struggle for their daily bread will be fed rich fare,
That those who struggle to further their education will be assisted and supported by people of faith,
That those who struggle to find affordable housing are assisted by people of faith,
For those who feel unwelcome,
FOR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
That our parish may grow in holiness and in our dedication to evangelization,
For our parish community, that together we may live the Gospel of the Good Shepherd in a spirit of peace and concern for one another,
That our community may set our hearts on things that are above as we work to build the kingdom of God on earth,
That catechists and parish religious educators may grow in their love for the Lord, and model his teachings in words and deeds,
FOR THE ASSEMBLY
For the grace this week to reverence the Holy Name of Jesus in all we do,
For this worship community, may we model the love, mercy, and compassion of God to all whom we meet,
For all those who joined in full communion with the Church on Easter, may their faith continue to grow and may their example draw others to the Lord,
That as we continue our Easter celebration, we, as a faith community, may truly attempt to put our faith in these words and promises of Jesus: that whoever receives me receives the one who sent me,
That members of this faith community may daily strive to bring the light of Christ to others,
That the community gathered here today may be strengthened by the Eucharist we share,
FOR THE SICK
That the members of this assembly share God’s abundant feast with those who cannot be here, especially the sick and homebound,
That those who suffer from chronic illness may experience God’s healing touch upon them,
That those who suffer illness will be comforted by people of faith,
For the poor, the sick, the unemployed, the homeless, those facing financial distress, and those enslaved by addiction: that the power of Christ’s Resurrection will touch their lives,
For the sick and the homebound in our community, may they be graced with the gift of courage and be comforted by loving family and caregivers,
That the witness of those who suffer and die will inspire individuals plagued by doubt,
That all children who suffer illness may be touched by the healing hand of Christ,
FOR THE DECEASED
For all who have died, may the Good Shepherd gather them into the eternal pastures of heaven,
For all who have died, may they know the joy of eternal life as they live on in the presence of our heavenly Father,
For our faithful departed, may they rejoice in Christ’s promise of eternal life,
That our beloved dead may enjoy the heavenly banquet prepared for them,
That our deceased friends and relatives may enjoy the presence of Jesus and all his saints at the eternal banquet in Paradise,
That those who have died may be welcomed into their glorious dwelling place in heaven,
That those who have died, especially the recently deceased, may find rest in the welcoming embrace of the Father,
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
RESOURCE: INTERCESSIONS FOR NATURAL DISASTERS FOR U. S ET AL
Universal Prayers for Victims of Recent Natural Disasters
3) For those whose homes and businesses have been destroyed by floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, forest fires or other natural disasters, that, as they struggle to rebuild, they will experience the loving assistance of communities of faith, let us pray to the Lord …
4) For all rescue workers and volunteers, that they will be blessed with energy and courage as they help their brothers and sisters who have been injured or left homeless by recent natural disasters, let us pray to the Lord …
5) For all of us, that we will reach out in love to those who are suffering due to the recent earthquakes, floods and tornadoes, let us pray to the Lord …
Universal Prayers for Opioid Crisis:
1) For members of the health professions, first responders and civic leaders, may the Holy Spirit inspire them to work together to help all those who are affected by the scourge of addiction, let us pray to the Lord.
2) For those struggling to break free from addiction to opioids, may they find hope and healing in Jesus and his Church on their path to recovery, let us pray to the Lord.
3) For those who have died because of their addictions, may they now rest in the peace and joy of God’s love through all eternity, let us pray to the Lord.
Universal Prayers for the Shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas
1) For the innocent victims killed in the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and for all who die as a result of violence, may they find perpetual peace and joy in heaven, let us pray to the Lord.
2) For the families and friends of those who were killed or wounded in the shooting in Sutherland Springs, and for all those who have experienced violence in their lives, may they be comforted by the love of God and the compassion of all members of our Church, let us pray to the Lord.
3) For members of churches everywhere, may God help us find practical and meaningful ways to overcome dysfunction, evil and violence in our world, let us pray to the Lord.
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
Faith Catholic Online; Daily Prayer 2018; OCP; Magnificat; Liturgical Press.
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
General Intercessions for the 3rd Sunday of Easter
15 April, 2018 – Cycle B
Presider: O God, your Son remained with his disciples after his resurrection, teaching them to love all people as neighbors. As his disciples in this age, we offer our prayers on behalf of the universe in which we are privileged to live and our neighbors with whom we share it.
- For the Pope, bishops, and priests: so that when they break bread, we can recognize Jesus in the Eucharist; We pray to the Lord.
- For those in particular difficulties: the people of Syria in their continued sufferings, the tensions between the people of Gaza and Israel and between Russia and the United States. That wisdom, dialogue and respect may triumph over every evil; We pray to the Lord.
- That as we recognize Jesus in broken bread, so may we recognize Him in broken lives, including those we consider burdensome, inconvenient, and unwanted; We pray to the Lord.
- For health care professionals: that they may have the courage to witness to ethical medical practices despite pressures from others in medicine and government; We pray to the Lord.
- That the witness of this parish community to the risen Christ may echo into our neighborhoods, schools and work places, inviting others to believe the Good News; We pray to the Lord.
- For the sick and the homebound in our community, especially . . . . May they be graced with the gift of courage and be comforted by loving family and caregivers; We pray to the Lord.
- For all the faithful departed, including . . . . That they may experience the fullness of the Lord’s presence in the heavenly kingdom. In a special way we honor
5pm All Souls, Living & Deceased 7:30am Angela Scalco
9am Kurt Weingartner 11am our St. Peter Parish Family
5pm Daniel Collins
for whom this Mass is offered; We pray to the Lord.
Presider: God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, hear us as stewards of these Easter mysteries. We offer these prayers, and those which remain unspoken, in the name of Jesus our resurrected Lord. Amen.