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4th Sunday of Easter, Year C (Good Shepherd Sunday): Acts 13:14, 43-52, Rev 7:9,14-17, Jn 10:27-30

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Homily Notes for the 4th Sunday of Easter (Good Shepherd Sunday): Acts 13:14, 43-52, Rev 7:9,14-17, Jn 10:27-30

·  During a frustrating argument with a Roman Catholic cardinal, whose name seems to be lost in history, Napoleon Bonaparte supposedly burst out: “Your eminence, are you not aware that I have the power to destroy the Catholic Church?” The cardinal, the anecdote goes, responded ruefully: “Your majesty, we, the Catholic clergy, have done our best to destroy the church for the last 1,800 years. We have not succeeded, and neither will you.”

·  Napoleon was defeated and his empire dismantled, yet the Church, battered and washed in blood during the French Revolution, remained, proving true the words of Our Lord to St Peter that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church for it will always be kept safe by the steady staff and watchful eye of the Good Shepherd, for as Jesus says today “No one will snatch them out of my hand” as he leads us through trial and tribulation to eternal life where we will never perish.

·  But the ruefully reply of the unnamed roman Cardinal about the manifold ways that the priests of the church have too often brought scandal, confusion, bewilderment and hurt to the people and mission of the church should not be seen as justification for such behaviour but an affirmation that Jesus knows he is working with priests who are themselves sinners, have many personal faults and weaknesses and are often lead astray by the devil, the flesh and the world to not live up to the exultant vocation that Christ bestowed on them on the day of their ordination.

·  On this 4th Sunday of Easter, also known as Good Shepherd Sunday, the Church asks that prayer be said especially for the priests of our Church and for more priestly vocations to emerge, of which this year our diocese rejoices that on May 21st Mr. Santiago Torres will be ordained a transitional deacon and God willing next year the newest priest of our diocese.  But what should we pray for exactly?

·  The readings today offer some insight. In Acts, the final sentence of the passage we heard said the at the disciples were filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit. This is such an important prayer for priests, that the joy of the Holy Spirit be with them. Joy in the things and mission of God is a powerful antidote against the passings joys that come from the world and too often can seduce a priest’s heart to be so focused on worldly matters and the demands of parish life that he forgets to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to renew his heart. Please pray for all us priests to remain or rediscover the joy that the Holy Spirit promises to those who take the time daily to rest in Him.

·  In the Book of Revelation, the final verse of the passage we heard spoke of how the Lamb of God will wipe the tears away from the eyes of those who suffered with him but remained faithful. In the life of a priest, the temptation to despair and want to give up can be very real. Lack of results, scandals that emerge among the clergy, disappointments in things that are not going well in the parish, fear of new challenges and feelings of personal inadequacy can cause much discouragement and a lack of hope in one’s vocation.

·  But the Lamb of God, slain yet gloried, promises every priest and every believer the hope that to labour with him is not in vain but that in this life tears need to be shed but with the hope they will be wiped away.

·  Joy and Hope. Please pray that those beautiful realities of faith be firmly entrenched in the heart of every priest. In particular, I would ask that over the next two weeks you pray especially for the priests of our diocese as we begin our annual retreats, of which I will be away next week. It has been two years since we could have these retreats in person and many of us, myself included, are long overdue to go to the quiet place and rest with the Lord, asking for the gifts of joy and hope and the spirit on ongoing conversion and perseverance in whatever the Lord has in store for each of us.

·  Thank you everyone for supporting me as your parish priest and spiritual father, pray for me and every priest to be a Good Shepherd and trust that even when we fall short and harm the Church that Christ will never abandon us and assure His Church carries on his saving mission.

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