Column from parish bulletin on Good Shepherd Sunday
Dear Followers of the Risen Christ,
Jesus chases us. He pursues us because we already belong to his love and kindness. Jesus wants the best for us because he has already suffered and died for our lives. Our salvation is not our making. Salvation is a pure gift. He looks kindly upon us, not to judge but to offer us a life that his filled with hope, mercy and forgiveness.
This Sunday’s gospel (John 10:27-30) reveals to us again the love of the Good Shepherd. The Fourth Sunday of Easter is traditionally known as “Good Shepherd” Sunday. This image to express the foundation of God’s care for us is a perfect and profound image for the new life that is offered us in Easter.
When I was at Notre Dame for the Holy Cross pastors’ meetings, I went to the Morris Inn for breakfast before leaving to come back to Colorado. There was gathering of new students and parents. So as I sat down at a table to be served my meal, I noticed a father and son across from me. The father’s back faced me but the son’s posture toward his father was in full view for me. I could witness every expression of the son’s face. The son leaned into his father’s presence. The son could not take his eyes off his father. The son spoke to his dad without blinking, he spoke with confidence and fidelity. The son was speaking German to his dad but it did not matter what language he was speaking. His posture and attitude conveyed everything to me.
I admit that I never spoke to my father in such a loving and convicted way. My eyes would have diverted with uncertainty and shame. I suspect that is the experience of most people. This young man’s posture toward his father and toward life will forever be in my heart because this is the posture of real prayer. We need the firm conviction that the father wants the best for us and desires us to thrive.
Are you able in this Easter Season to look Jesus and the Father in the eyes? Are you able to receive the tenderness of Jesus? I hope you will be able through the gift of Easter to feel good enough about your relationship with God to not have your eyes cast down in dread or shame or regret. I hope you will be able to directly come to Jesus to tell him what you need and to be grateful for the opportunity to look him in the eyes.
I have heard so many times recently that people have given up on God. They do so because judgment of the Church is their only experience of faith or community. They give up on God’s searching for them because they are divorced and remarried or because their son or daughter is married to a same-sex partner. They may have given up on the face of Jesus because the faces of people in the pews are harsh and unwelcoming. Their eyes are cast down from the love of God because other people have told them they are not worthy to receive communion or to find a home within the Church.
This gospel and image of the Good Shepherd is at the heart of the Year of Mercy. We need to find ways in which people will understand the love God has for them whether or not their lives are hindered from the rules of belonging in the communion line. We cannot give up on people nor condemn them or judge them. We must seek people out and be kind to them and help them gaze upon the eyes of Jesus and the Father. We cannot let labels completely identify people.
As I mentioned last week at all the Sunday Masses at Sacred Heart, we are working with a consultant from Orlando to look at a plan for our three parishes. We hired an architect last year to design plans for our buildings. Marilyn Blanchette is now helping us focus our future on who we will be and our witness in faith. This work is time consuming and difficult but should provide great outcomes for our future. I will be letting you know more about these plans as the weeks go by. We have also talked about how communication is such a problem and that very few people will read these sentences in the parish bulletin. However, we are forging ahead to provide a future for this community many parishioners input and the words of our consultants.
This coming week the priests of the Diocese of Colorado Springs will be in Breckinridge for meetings. Please pray for us. Our Holy Cross priests from our novitiate will be presiding at daily Masses here at Sacred Heart Church. Fr. Ken, Fr. Don and Fr. Mike will preside this week at 8:00am.
Blessings in this Easter Season,