Fourth Sunday Of Easter Christ The Good Shepherd

MAY 3, 2020 – 9.30AM MASS (Streamed on YouTube)

My dear Parishioners – my brothers and sisters for whom I pray and look out for.

Covid – 19 lock-down has been very hard on so many and in particular on myself. – Not having you with me in person in our beautiful St Mary’s Cathedral is a great angst for me. Each day with Deacon Jithin attending I have mass in the Cathedral as I look out over the empty pews – sayings-like ‘how I long to see you, how I long to pray with you, how I long to hear your voice, how I miss the choir, the singing and your devout prayers – these thoughts have deeper meaning for me – more than I could have imagined. The various phone calls I have made, and received have been delightful opportunities to catch up and in them I feel much comfort.

For your readings for this 4th Sunday of Easter:
The first reading is the Acts of the Apostles 2: 14, 36-41;
The second reading 1 Peter 2: 20 – 25; and:
John’s Gospel Chapter 10: 1-10.
Please make time to read and prayerfully reflect.

This Sunday known as Good Shepherd Sunday. Christ is our Good Shepherd.

I invite you to prepare a space to pray – sitting quietly- we pause- we pray.
Lord with you as our shepherd, there is nothing we shall want:
Lord have mercy

Lord, even if we shall walk in the valley of darkness, we will fear no evil,
because you are with us.
Christ have mercy

Lord in your own house we will dwell for ever and ever
Lord have mercy

May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and bring us to life every-lasting. Amen

Some thoughts on the Gospel (John 10: 1-10)

‘Living Life to the Full’
‘I have come that you may have life and have it to the full’ (Gospel)

I invite you to ask this question: Is Jesus talking about eternal life or also about this life? I have no doubt that these words are to be applied to our life on earth as much as to our hope of eternal life.
As I am trying to put these words together, my little puppy Monny – has returned from two nights of sleep-over, so excited to be with me she is demanding my attention, not after I have finished my message to you – But Right Now ! So I am constantly being interrupted – she is jumping up – her sharp teeth – hurting – she is wanting me to throw the tennis ball for her to exercise and to have complete control of me. (I was thinking like the many good shepherds there are in our parish, in each family where each mum and dad has the experience of their child(children) wanting their undivided attention – when asking their question(s), when reading the good night story at their bedside, when saying their prayers, when praying for every known need important to them. When wanting to know they are loved, and in your loving responses you affirm they are very much wanted and God’s precious gift – I smile as I view this scene in my heart).

Well there is a lovely story that is a Spanish legend, something like this: When people arrive at the gate of heaven seeking entry, St Peter asks each one: “Have you taken advantage of all the earthly joys which God in his goodness made available to you while you were on earth?”
If the person answers ‘No I haven’t’ Peter shakes his head sadly and says ‘Sorry my friend I cannot let you in – not yet any way. Asking further how can you expect to be ready for the heavenly joy’s if you have not prepared yourself for them through the medium of the earthly ones? I shall be obliged to send you back down to earth until you learn better.’
Scary having to face such a question isn’t it?, we realise that Covid-19 Virus has made the whole world more aware that life is a fragile gift, that every moment is utterly unique, that should command our attention. I’ll never forget as a young boy in boarding school at Geelong in charge of 50 of my peers in our sleeping quarters and what was expected of me to ensure as the Brothers had their well-deserved supper and were at their night prayers I would oversee to the calm retiring to their beds of 50 of my peers in a relative orderly manner.
One particular night there was chaos – out of control utter bedlam – my punishment was to write out 500 times ‘Responsibility given to one seen to be responsible must be carried out responsibly’ God speaks to us through wise and good voices and I have heard these words many times as I try to live as a Good Shepherd as Parish Priest in each of the Parishes I have been fortunate to have been and now especially here in the Cathedral parish of Sale.
I experience with great pride many Mums and dads, Grandparents doing wonderful things for God in their sacrifices, the prayers they pray and the generous contribution, they give unquestionably in the lives of their sons and daughters, their children’s children and the lives of the lonely the elderly and the bereaved within our parish, the communities into which they are sent from Mass each weekend.
We know much will be asked of us when the lock-down is over, there will be a revelation of those who have lost jobs and whose situations have vastly changed. The question will be – How will we be the Good Shepherd we are called to be?

Yes, Life is a fragile gift! Every moment is utterly unique – fleeting – just like the streams that run quickly down to the sea. This fleetingness gives life its poignancy and makes it all the more precious
This weekend my family remembers our dear Mother Monica who was buried 44 years ago on the Feast of St Joseph May 1 – When through Fr John Shanley Monica and Joe her dear husband heard my story and needs – they shared with their family my story and the whole family opened their doors and their hearts to give me a home – their circumstances were not affluent, but their hearts were so rich in the love of God, these good-shepherds gave me a family and life to the full – the very words of this Sunday’s gospel ‘I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.
The Good Shepherd wants us to have life to the full.
I ask you to think for a moment on all those opportunities we have received through the love of our parents and our families Through the bishops – especially more recently Archbishop-Elect Patrick O’Regan who has given the diocese of Sale a wonderfully rich spirit of service, care and love, the many priests who have served in our parishes, the religious brothers and sisters who have taught us, now we have the wonderful witness of our lay teachers, our many parishioners who serve us still on various committees, and all who through to this day give us patient understanding ‘life to the full’.

When Covid-19 restrictions are lifted in whichever way, we will be asked to let live whatever presents itself to us, because everything is a gift from God. Life is generous to those who seize it with both hands. What people are looking for is not meaning in life, but the experience of being alive – the rapture of living (Joseph Campbell). We are meant to live. ‘Fear not that your life will end, rather fear that it may never have begun.’ (Thoreau).
Remember Jesus began his ministry with these words ‘Believe in the Good News’ ‘What is the Good News’. The good news is ‘I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.’

Good Shepherd Sunday

Let us pray for every Mum and dad, every leader in our schools, parishes, communities and governments – we make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.