Archive for April, 2021

The Good Shepherd 4-25-2021

Friday, April 30th, 2021

Introduction
For most of us I think it is safe to say this image of the Shepherd is not
something we see very much everyday. It was a very common scene in
the early Church: – it is a common scene in the Middle East. People in
the early Church could really understand what was involved in being a
shepherd. It was very real and earthy to them. The Biblical figure of the
Shepherd – has been romanticized a lot in paintings, pictures, Holy
Cards, “rosy cheeked young men – among pure white fluffy sheep on
beautiful green hillsides – very serene and peaceful.”
I did a little research into what Shepherds were like in the Time of
Jesus. It was a very lonely, dirty, dangerous job – that could not be
managed from a distance. Shepherds lived among the sheep in the filth
and stench – the lives of the sheep were their primary concern. A sheep
sometimes wandered far off from the others – when it got lost and could
not find its way back, it would simply lie down where it was and refuse
to budge – the shepherd would search out for the lost sheep – carefully
pick it up and carry it home. There was a personal relationship between
the Shepherd and each individual sheep. They were not just numbers.
I believe this image of the Shepherd points us to God. God is
not squeamish; God will not run away when things get messy in our
lives; – God’s hands are dirty (not lily white); God’s clothes are stained
with waste, mud and blood – the waste, mud and blood of our roller
coaster lives. This God gets in the middle of the mess with us.
Does the mess magically disappear? Not most of the time; but
there is a sense we are not alone and that helps us get through it. A key
question for us; Are we afraid to share our messes with God?
How does this shepherding image of God come alive? Become real to
people – Today –
I believe most of the time thru people – we are called to be shepherds
for each other. We are responsible to pick each other up when we are
down.
“I thought just priests and ministers were shepherds – no we all are if
we call ourselves Christian and mean it.”
“Don’t we need special skill and talents – training to do this? No! We
need a caring heart, a little common sense and a few less excuses.
“What about when you don’t have the answers or solutions to people’s
problems? You don’t know what to say or do. Just listen and just be
there for them.
I close with a story I am sure we all have heard;
A man dreamed he died and went to heaven and there was met
by Jesus. The man had lived a long Christian life, but it had not been
without some time of great trial and tribulation as well as those times
of joy and victory. As he met with Christ, the man was given a
panoramic review of his life – all the highlights and low periods. In
the review of his life one of the things that continued throughout were
his footsteps along the sands of time.

The man noticed that at those times in his life when it had really
been rough there was only one set of footprints – not two as in the
good times. The man turned to the Lord and said, “Lord, I don’t
understand. You promised to be with me always. But when I look
back now, I see that in those really rough times there was only one set
of footprints. Lord, why did you leave me then?”
The Lord looked at him, smiled and said, ‘Leave you? I didn’t
leave you at all. Dear friend, if you look at the one set of footprints
carefully, you’ll notice they are a little deeper than the others. Those
were the time I was carrying you.”

God is Waiting to be Found 4-18-2021

Saturday, April 17th, 2021

The disciples ran to Jerusalem with exciting news.
“We just saw Jesus,” they exclaimed.
The others crowded around to get the details. They all wanted to
know how he looked. And you would have thought that these two
people who had just seen Jesus would have remembered how he looked,
but they could not do it. What was wrong with them?
All they could say were things like:
“He looked like a father stretching out his hands to his prodigal son
and his older brother.”
“He looked like he did when he laid his hands on all the sick,
restoring them all to health.”
“He looked like he did when he took Jairus’s daughter by the hand
and brought her back to life.”
“He looked like the apostles when they distributed those five
loaves and two fishes to those five thousand hungry people. “He looked like the hemorrhaging woman who reached out her
hand and touched his cloak and was healed.”
“He looked like the woman who washed his feet with her perfume
and was blessed with his forgiveness and peace.”
“He looked like the widow with hands folded in prayer, seeking
justice from that corrupt judge.”
“He looked like he did on the night before he died when he took
bread and broke it saying, ‘This is my body to be given up for you. Do
this as a remembrance of me.’”
So this is how they described Jesus’ appearance. And every time
after that, whenever they saw hands reaching out to touch the lives of
others, they saw Jesus alive.
I close with this story: A little boy was playing hide-and-seek with
his friends. For some unknown reason they stopped playing while he
was hiding. He began to cry. His old grandfather came out of the house
to see what was troubling him and to comfort him. After learning what
had happened, the grandfather said, “Do not weep, my child, because the boys did not come to find you. Perhaps you can learn a lesson from this disappointment. All of life is like a game between God and us. Only it
is God who is weeping, for we are not playing the game fairly. God is
waiting to be found, but many have gone in search of other things.”
In so many ways, the risen Christ is in our midst, present in the
love, charity and goodness of others, in the Sacrament of Eucharist, in
God’s Word – Broken and Shared, in the Community of Faith Filled
People and in moments of Grace and Prayer. Unfortunately, we often do
not realize it.
May our celebration open our hearts and spirits to recognize Christ
among us in every season of our life. “Lord, help us not to miss you.
Amen.”

Tangible Resurrection 4-11-2021

Sunday, April 11th, 2021

Many of us have mastered Zoom and Skype this past year; we’ve
come to live for those online chats and visits with loved ones. We’ve
learned to teach, to interview, to conduct business with students and
clients and coworkers in living rooms all over the world – but an image
on a screen is no substitute for a face-to-face exchange, the most
effective learning dynamic is experienced in the community created in
the classroom, love is most happily expressed in a grandchild’s hug.
In today’s Gospel, the disciples tell Thomas they have seen Jesus.
Thomas replies that “unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and
put my finger in the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not
believe.” In countless sermons over the centuries on the Second Sunday
of Easter, Thomas has been criticized for his “doubt” in the resurrection
– but Thomas is no different than we are: Thomas wants something he
can touch; he wants a tangible sign of Jesus’ resurrection. After the
horrific week since Jesus’s crucifixion, he wants more than a metaphor.
Thomas wants real life, life perfected and re-created by God. And Jesus acquiesces. The Crucified Jesus lives again – In us. Our compassionate
presence to one another, our embrace of one another in peace and
respect, our commitment to the Gospel work of reconciliation and justice
are all tangible signs of Jesus’ resurrection. This Easter season, may we
realize the many ways we can “touch” and make real the Risen One in
our midst