From the Pastor’s Desk

SUNDAY REFLECTIONS

FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – 08 MAY, 2022

 

My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Jesus Christ

Love and Peace!

Introduction:

The fourth Sunday of Easter, known as Good Shepherd Sunday, is also the “World Day of Prayer for Vocations.” The Scripture lessons for this day concern the role of the shepherds of God’s flock in the Church. Each year on this Sunday, we reflect on the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd who devotedly and kindly takes care of his flock.

Today’s Readings:

The first reading presents Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey to Asia Minor (present day Turkey). On the Sabbath, Paul and Barnabas entered the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia where they were invited to give a word of exhortation to the people. They explained that since Christ had been rejected by the Jews, Christians were obliged to preach the Gospel to all the nations, thus emphasizing the universal mission of Christianity. Paul and Barnabas remained faithful to the Gospel that Jesus had revealed. They “were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit” and continued to preach to the Gentiles who welcomed them with delight. The mission of the Church is indeed a continuation of the ministry of salvation begun by Jesus.

In the second reading from the Book of Revelation, the vision Jesus gave to St. John the Evangelist, to be written down, was meant to instruct and encourage persecuted Christians, not only of the First Century but of all centuries. The Vision presents Jesus as both the slain and glorified Lamb and the Good Shepherd. John’s visions promised his readers that Jesus, the Passover Lamb, would shepherd them, providing them with shelter, protection, and safe passage to the life-giving waters of eternity.

The short passage of the Gospel we read today reveals some of the characteristics of the Good Shepherd as well as that of the sheep of his flock. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows his sheep. The knowledge that the shepherd has of the sheep is profound. Taking the shepherd- sheep relationship to human realm, we say that Jesus knows all our thoughts, needs, difficulties, etc. This knowledge leads him to pay personal attention to each one of us. The Good Shepherd considers the sheep of his flock as the greatest gift of the Father. Not only Jesus considers us as God’s best gift, but also, he sees the best in us and he brings out the best in us. Let us pray for “vocations to priesthood” who will be our shepherds in our synodal journey of faith.

Message for Life:

Let us become good shepherds and good sheep, good leaders and good followers.

1) Let us become good shepherds: Everyone who is entrusted with the care of others is a shepherd. Hence, pastors, parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, government officials, etc. are all shepherds. We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, praying for them, spending our time and talents for their welfare, and guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers. Parents must be especially careful of their duties, thus giving their children good example through the way they live their Christian lives as husband and wife and as parents.

2) Let us be good sheep in the fold of Jesus, the Good Shepherd: Our local parish is our sheepfold, and our pastors are our shepherds. Jesus is the High Priest, the bishops are the successors of the apostles, the pastors, assisted by their Deacons, are their helpers and the parishioners are the sheep. Hence, as the good sheep of the parish, parishioners are expected to

a) hear and follow the voice of their shepherds through their homilies, Bible classes, counseling, and advice;

b) receive the spiritual food our pastors provide by regular participation in the Holy Mass, by frequenting the Sacraments, and by attending prayer services, renewal programs, and missions;

c) cooperate with our pastors by giving them positive suggestions for the welfare of the parish, by encouraging them in their duties, by lovingly offering them constructive criticism when they are found misbehaving or failing in their duties, by praying for them always and forgiving them at need; and

d) cooperate with our fellow-parishioners in the activities of various ministries, and parish programmes.

3) Let us pray for generous responses to all the vocations God offers men to enter the priesthood, the diaconate, the mission fields, and all the vocations God offers both men and women to enter the consecrated life, so that we may have more good shepherds to lead, feed, and protect the Catholic community here an abroad. Let us remember that the duty of fostering vocations is the concern of the whole believing community, and we discharge that responsibility primarily by living exemplary Christian lives. Parents foster vocations by creating a God-centered climate in homes based on solid Christian values. They should pray with their children for vocations during the family prayer time and speak encouraging words about their pastors, the missionaries, and the religious, instead of criticizing these servants of God. Such an atmosphere in the family will definitely foster vocations from such families. Financial support of seminarians is also a positive contribution to promoting vocations.

Today we celebrate “Mothers” Day as an expression of our respect and love to our own mothers as well as to all mothers in the world. God has given us mothers to carry us, raise us, teach us, and mould us into godly people. Of course no mother is perfect, and not everyone grew up with a loving mother. But every mother out there — from the one who feels she was born to be a mom to the one who struggles with the title — deserves honor and praise for the role God has given them, a role that reflects God in a deeply profound way.

Mother’s Day is the perfect occasion to offer this honor and love in word and deed, to show the extent to which we’re grateful for all they do, every day. Let us pray for all the mothers including the single mothers.

 

Conclusion:

For us Christians, the beloved disciple is the role we are cast into. We must step into the part of the beloved disciple like St. John. We must presume an intimacy with Christ, our dearest friend; we must search for the generosities that surround us in order to point out, to ourselves and each other, Christ’s handiwork in our lives, in order to interpret his largesse, to foretell his donation, in the midst of life. This friendship enables us to interpret, not only the sacred scriptures, but also the world. It becomes the fundamental and only hermeneutic: the lens through which everything is seen. Friendship with Christ is the fundamental key; it is the lens through which everything must be measured, weighed, interpreted. We must each become beloved disciples — friends — of Christ, so that, in the midst of our own lives, we too can say with confidence and certainty, wherever we are, in whatever experience: “It is the Lord.” And Christ too will say: “They know me; I know them.”

AMEN

Stay Blessed! Stay Safe!

With Blessings

Fr. Xavier Kannickairaj

 

Pastor