Engaging Faith | Tue, Apr 28, 2009
Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 3, 2009
1 John 3:1-2
May 1: Feast of St. Joseph the Worker; International Workers' Day
May 3: World Press Freedom Day
May 3: World Day of Prayer for Vocations
May 5: Cinco de Mayo
May 8: World Red Cross Day
May 10, Mother's Day in the United States and many other nations as well
The salvation brought by Christ is continually being offered to us, that it may bear abundant fruits of goodness in keeping with the plan of God who wishes to save all his children, especially those who have gone away from him and are looking for the way back. The Good Shepherd is always going in search of the lost sheep, and when he finds them he puts them on his shoulders and brings them back to the flock. Christ is in search of every human being, whatever the situation!
John Paul II, Jubilee Message for those in Prisons, 9 July 2000
The following three quotes are from John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici of 1988:
People are called to joy. Nevertheless, each day they experience many forms of suffering and pain. The Synod Fathers in addressing men and women affected by these various forms of suffering and pain used the following words in their final Message: "You who are the abandoned and pushed to the edges of our consumer society; you who are sick, people with disabilities, the poor and hungry, migrants and prisoners, refugees, unemployed, abandoned children and old people who feel alone; you who are victims of war and all kinds of violence: the Church reminds you that she shares your suffering. She takes it to the Lord, who in turn associates you with his redeeming Passion. You are brought to life in the light of his resurrection. We need you to teach the whole world what love is. We will do everything we can so that you may find your rightful place in the Church and in society."
The ministries which exist and are at work at this time in the Church are all, even in their variety of forms, a participation in Jesus Christ's own ministry as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep, the humble servant who gives himself without reserve for the salvation of all.
The mission of the Apostles, which the Lord Jesus continues to entrust to the pastors of his people, is a true service, significantly referred to in Sacred Scripture as "diakonia", namely, service or ministry.
Thoughts for your consideration
The gospel image of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd reminds us that Christ's ministry is a ministry of service and solidarity. Jesus desires to bring the whole flock together - all men and women - rich and poor - young and old - from all the many nations and groups. Jesus desires not to dominate or control or manipulate people but to serve them and bring them together.
If we function as "another Christ" today, what might this "good shepherding" look like? There are of course many levels of meaning. In light of the incarnation, we cannot focus simply on eternal life in some other future world. Jesus is concerned with what promotes eternal life in the present. We might say that the Good Shepherd is concerned for all the things that promote life:
- o Food, water, shelter, health care,
- o Community, compassion, solidarity
- o Spirituality, freedom, spirit
- o Justice, righteousness, virtue
- o Peace and nonviolence
We are called to share this same concern. With the "Good Shepherd" we are called to be involved in the real issues of life and in justice for the whole world. We are called to empower others with the wonder of this Spirit.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has a very simple and direct statement connecting Jesus as the Good Shepherd and the Preferential Option for the poor. It can be found at http://www.usccb.org/cchd/jesus_shepherd.shtml .
We often think of Jesus as the Good Shepherd and ourselves as His flock, because He takes care of our needs whether we are the strongest of the flock or the weakest. If we are the weakest we are given special attention so that we might become strong. This image of Jesus is a visual picture of the theme of Catholic Social Teaching, Preferential Option for and with the Poor and Vulnerable. Just as Jesus made great efforts to seek out the lost and weakest sheep, so too we are called to seek out the poor, to work with them toward empowerment and strength, and to make sure that we are aware of how our decisions affect the less fortunate in our communities.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
When have you experienced the care of a "Good Shepherd?"
How has this experience helped you to shepherd others?
The first letter of John refers to all of us as "children of God."
When have you experienced solidarity with those who are need?
When have you experienced a connection with people who were poor?
Actions - Links
Network, the Catholic Social Justice Lobby is working on the Dream Act. "The DREAM Act ("Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors" Act in the Senate, and "The American Dream" Act in the House) would allow undocumented children who entered the United States when 16 years or younger and who have lived in the United States for five years to apply for conditional permanent residency if they maintain good moral character and earn a high school diploma." You can get more info at http://dreamact.info/ You can write to Congress from the Network web site: http://www.networklobby.org/
The Jubilee USA Network writes: "The World Bank estimates that an additional 53 million people will be forced to live on less than $1 per day as a result of the global economic downturn."
"Approximately 2.8 million students will graduate from US High Schools this year. Some will go on to college; others will join the military or take another path in life. But they will get the opportunity to test their dreams and live their American story. However, a group of about 65,000 students a year will not have this opportunity because they bear the inherited title of undocumented immigrant." From http://dreamact.info/
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Shepherd us, O Lord.
For all people suffering from the swine flu epidemic, we pray....
For all who are losing employment during our economic recession, we pray....
For those trapped in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sir Lanka, Darfur, the Congo, and many other places, we pray....
For people without access to healthy water or adequate food, we pray....
For children without access to a quality education, we pray....
For the elderly without a supportive family, we pray....
For the stressed and worried who feel so overwhelmed, we pray.....
For our leaders as we need help to work together for the common good, we pray.....
Prayer - Meditation
Two short prayers for justice can be found on line at: http://www.invitationtoprayer.org/prayers_justice.html
Grant us, Lord God, a vision of our land as your love would make it:
- a land where the weak are protected, and none go hungry or poor;
- a land where the benefits of civilized life are shared, and everyone can enjoy them;
- a land where different races and cultures live in tolerance and mutual respect;
- a land where peace is built with justice, and justice is guided by love.
And give us the inspiration and courage to build it, through Jesus Christ our Lord.