Saturday, May 14, 2011

A homily first and then some widlife

The photos are from the Adelaide Zoo a few weeks ago.  The weather here in Warrnambool has not been cooperative.  I don’t mind consistent 45 to 50 degree days.  However, the rain is another matter.  This is not the kind of “walking in the rain” shower that rock groups sang about in the 60’s.  This is hurricane Agnes with heavy wind downpours coming on unexpectedly.  The showers only last a few minutes to ½ hour but that is plenty to ruin a camera.  Things appear to be improving now so I am hoping I can get down to the beach on Wednesday or even tomorrow (Sunday).   See below the homily for the pix.

4th Sunday of Easter
15 May 2011
Acts 2:14, 36-41
Ps 23
1 Pet 2:20-25
Jn 10:1-10

The Our Father is the one prayer that is shared by all Christians.  Today’s responsorial psalm, the 23rd psalm, is the one psalm, most likely the only one of the 150 in the psalter, that is universally familiar to believer and non-believer alike.  It is shared by Jew and Christian. 

“The Lord is my shepherd
There is nothing I shall want.”

It is a psalm of comfort and refuge. The images console those who mourn.  The words promise safety to those who fear. The verses enfold us in a warm embrace.  Today this beloved psalm leads us into the second reading and the Gospel and thus it acquires a deeper meaning and gives us direction. 

The Lord is my shepherd. Jesus is the Lamb of God.  Jesus is the door, the gate, the way and the life. Jesus, fully divine and fully human, was like us, exactly like us, in all things but sin.  He knew cold and warmth, hunger and satiety, joy and sorrow.  He was tempted and taunted.  He ate food and drank wine.  He knows our human condition.

The lamb led to the slaughter he is also the shepherd who leads us to eternal life.  The reading from Peter’s letter eloquently reminds us of Jesus’ passion, which we celebrated only four weeks ago.  And, in the last line, he reminds us that we had gone astray but came back.  We know that we will stray again.  We must always remember that we can, indeed we must, come back.  Come back to the care of the shepherd.  In the very next verse of John’s Gospel after the one with which this gospel passage ended, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” What more could we want? 

Whenever Jesus begins a statement as He does here, with  “Amen, amen I say to you” which is also translated as: “verily, verily I say unto thee,” He is telling his listeners, He is telling us, that He is about to say something of critical importance.  When this is followed by a statement beginning with “I am,” as it is in the second part of this gospel, there is even more reason to take notice.   In this Gospel Jesus is making a statement of exclusivity.   We will come back to that.

“He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name”

Sheep follow the shepherd because they know his voice.  Because they recognize the shepherd as one who will protect them and guide them safely. 
Thus, the shepherd walks in front of the sheep not behind them.   And so it is for us, we will be guided along the path if we allow Jesus to walk in front of us, not if we forge ahead on our own, pushing and shoving through a crowd. 

Because his listeners did not understand what he was saying Jesus begins again with  “I tell you most solemnly.”  This is where the exclusivity comes in.  “I am the gate . . . “  “All others who have come are thieves . . . “ Jesus is not one savior among many; Jesus is not one option of a whole range of choices.  There is only one way to salvation.  And that way is through Jesus.

“I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.”  This does not mean that we will not suffer or die. As we will hear later in John’s Gospel, “Who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”  Life to the full means eternal life.  As my former professor, Jesuit Father Stanley Marrow puts it, this gift of eternal life, “must remain as incomprehensible to those who do not believe in Jesus as it is mysterious to those who do believe in Him.” 

Whether it is a new life being welcomed into the Church in the sacrament of Baptism or a life that is much closer to its end, we are called to follow this shepherd who will lead us to eternal life. 

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.”

The Lord is our shepherd; there is nothing more we could possibly want. 

Truly, our cup is overflowing.

These birds are striking.   The color combination suggests Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Parrots have very goofy faces.  No wonder they are so popular in cartoons.

Speaking of goofy.  John Waters lives!

These little dudes are as cute in person as on TV.

Now this is red. 

You do not want to run into this one in a dark alley.  Was talking with a zoo keeper who noted that if this one got loose lives could be lost.  It is over six feet tall.  This was the only decent in focus photo out of more than thirty tries.  This one was pacing like Joe Paterno during a close game. 

 +Fr. Jack

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