Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Homily Fourth Sunday of Easter 13 April 2008

Each year, when Spring with its breezes begins to usher in
the birth of so many sheep
and to deposit the numerous young of the fruitful flock about the fields,
the meadows and the paths,
a good shepherd puts aside his songs and leisure.
He anxiously searches for the tender little sheep,
picks them up and gathers them together.
Happy to carry them, he places them about his neck,
on his shoulders, and in his arms.
He wants them to be safe as he carries or leads them to the protecting sheepfolds.

With these beautiful words, Saint Peter Chrysologus
paints a picture of the Spring ritual of a shepherd amid a fertile flock.

These poetic phrases also inspire us to reflect on the care of
Jesus the Good Shepherd, for His flock, the Church.

In His desire for all people to know His truth and love
and to belong to the one flock…
Jesus anxiously searches after us…tender little sheep….
and gathers us together.

He carries us lovingly into the protection of the sheepfold of the Church,
and guides us into the truth.

Using a farming analogy that would have resonated with the people
to whom He spoke, the Lord Himself tells us in today’s Gospel…
“Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.”

Later on Jesus specifies…
“I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.”

The one true gateway into the sheepfold of the Church is Jesus Christ.

Anyone who wishes to be part of the Church,
must enter through the authentic gateway,
embracing and preaching the true Christ.

Anyone who attempts to enter or be included in the fold…
all the while not entering through the gateway of the true Christ…
is like a robber who does to the flock and scatters the sheep.

Anyone who circumvents the true gate in order to enter via his own agenda
is like a thief.

Those who use the name “Catholic” without embracing the true faith
do not enter the fold through the tradition of the Lord
but instead climb over the fence and break through the wall.

Groups such as “Catholics for Free Choice”
and “Catholics” who lobby for women priests…
by claiming the name “Catholic” and yet denying the faith…
burst into the fold in an inauthentic way,
trample the truth,
and cause irreparable harm to the sheep of Christ's flock.

It is only by embracing the true faith
and approaching the authentic gateway which is the true Christ
that one can enter and be included in the fold of the Church.

Furthermore, the true sheep enter the fold by imitating the humility of Christ.
Just as He humbled Himself before the Father’s will,
so we are called to humble ourselves and be docile to the truth.

In order that the truth might be taught to all the nations…
and that the Church might flourish on every land and in every century…
Jesus appointed shepherds to lead and guide the sheep.

A true shepherd is one who uses the lawful entrance,
who lives with all his heart according to the law of Christ
who leads the sheep along the right path and feeds them with the Word of God.
Such a shepherd is endowed with the gift of teaching,
and the authority to lead the sheep into the pastures of holiness and truth.

Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders,
shepherds are chosen by Christ to guide the flock.

On this “World Day of Prayer for Vocations”
we pray earnestly that many young men will hear the call
to be pastors after the heart of Jesus the Good Shepherd.
We pray also for vocations to the religious life,
that the needs of all may find fulfillment in the grace of Christ.

Saint John Chrysostom wrote that by the Sacred Scriptures we can know
“both those who are and who are not shepherds.”
Whoever does not believe in the Scriptures climbs into the fold like a thief.

True sheep believe all that the Scriptures contain.
True sheep know that in Saint Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus chose Peter
and said to him “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.”

In so doing, Jesus established the office of the papacy,
which has been held by an unbroken succession of Popes until this very day,
thus assuring the Church that she would never be without
a visible shepherd to guide her into the truth.

The Shepherd of the Universal Church, Benedict XVI,
will begin his first Apostolic Journey to the United States this Tuesday.

This coming week will be a tremendous moment of grace
for Catholics throughout the United States
as the Vicar of Christ comes to us…
as the shepherd comes to nourish the sheep with his wisdom and love.

The Holy Father’s visit reminds us all
that the Church is much greater than our parish or even our diocese.
The sheepfold of Christ transcends human boundaries and the limits of time
and the truth of Jesus Christ is an eternal reality.

We give thanks for the office of the Pope…
for where there is Peter, there we know is the Church.
And we give thanks in particular for Pope Benedict …
a man of unwavering faith who is leading us along the pathways of holiness
through the gateway which is Christ.

[At Family First Communion Masses...]
The Lord Jesus feeds His sheep with the most precious food of all…
His own Body and .
Today some of our dear young people…boys and s beloved by Christ…
will receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time.
In their First Communion, our babies will receive our Lord.

The gifts of the shepherd are wonderful in our sight…
for Jesus has come that we might have life in abundance.
May we always cling to the true shepherd and guardian of our souls…
and find in Him the gateway to everlasting life!