“My Sheep Hear My Voice”
The fourth Sunday of the Easter season is often called “Good Shepherd Sunday,” from the comforting imagery of Jesus as the shepherd who will lead his sheep to eternal life. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, protects and provides for his flock, even to the point of laying down his life so that we can live more abundantly. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus teaches what we must do to join him in the kingdom of heaven.
When Jesus uses the image of sheep to describe those in his care, he is describing a situation to which his listeners can easily relate. It is a well-used image from the Old Testament to describe the people entrusted to the care of their leaders. The priests, prophets and kings failed in their responsibilities to such an extent that God the Father took back the flock into his personal care, and now they are entrusted to Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
Sheep are not pampered and coddled, shampooed and deodorized. They are smelly, frisky and get themselves into all sorts of difficult and often-life threatening situations. They need a shepherd to look after them, to guide them and keep them safe.
Just as parents recognize the different cries of their own children, so the good shepherd listens for the cry of his sheep. And just as children recognize the voice of their parents, so those who belong to Jesus listen to his voice and follow him.
Today is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We ask God to help us all to recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd and to follow him; to understand however; that we are not just sheep who follow, but sharers with Jesus in his mission to seek out and save those who are lost. It is a mission to get involved in and create the world that God wants. Let us specifically pray and support young people from our community who feel a call to priesthood or religious life.
Let us also pray for those who shepherd the Church. We pray for Pope Francis, bishops, priests religious and lay ministers who are responsible for the pastoral care of God’s people. May the grace of God sustain and guide them.
“Taking Jesus To Those Living Behind Bars”
The latest edition of the Catholic New World contains a good article that describes the Kolbe House ministry that is based in our Sharing Parish, Assumption Church, located at 2434 South California Ave, near Cook County jail. You can read the entire article on-line at catholicnewworld.com.
The Kolbe House ministry began in 1983. The ministry trains male and female volunteers to visit inmates in both Cook and Lake County jails. They offer Bible studies, Masses and Communion services to those in jail or prison. There is a monthly Mass of reconciliation offered at Assumption Church.
Our good friend, Fr. Arturo Perez, is both pastor of Assumption parish and one of the chaplains for the Cook County jail. The second collection this weekend is for our Sharing Parish. Thank you for your financial support that helps to bring the good news and to those seeking God’s love and mercy.
Soon And Very Soon
Chicagoans have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of warmer weather. Joggers, cyclists, golfers and baseball fans can't wait to ditch their sweaters and jackets and feel the sun on their skin. The world around us is slowly resurrecting from a gray and dormant winter. Budding trees and courageous and colorful tulips brave the frosty mornings. Our bodies recharge faster as every 24 hours gets filled with a little more daylight.
Spring is in the air, and knocking at our door. You smell it when you roll down the car windows for the first time in months. You can sense it when you hear the thumping of rap music from the car behind you when you are stuck at the red light.
We are in the midst of the Easter season. Like the world around us, may we experience new life.