Homily from Sunday May 08th 2022: 4th Sunday of Easter
We tend to idealize the role of a shepherd and his sheep. What we seem to overlook is that the flock has to endure winter, disease and wolves. For all that, they need a really good shepherd to care for them so that the sheep stay together.
We also tend to idealize the Christian life. In fact we romanticize many things; like T.V. doctors who always seem to make house calls, T.V lawyers who spend their life on a client’s case, and T.V. romances that always works out in the end.
Then there are T.V. churches that always have enough room & never any microphone problems, where everything comes out perfect and everyone is prosperous with blow dried hair.
But T.V. is not real life. The real life where we live is a world of imperfect relationships, emotional crises and lots of crime.
An important way we can follow the Lord is by staying with the flock. Sheep can get lost by wandering away and so can we. Belonging to the flock of Christ, is not a kind of spiritual luxury, it has to do with spiritual survival and truth.
The flock of Jesus Christ is not an abstraction or an ideal that can be anything we imagine it to be. It is something very real. It has size, numbers, institutional history and a location. It is in the parish where we make our commitment to Christ concrete and specific. The parish helps us to keep our commitment to Christ real and not just an ideal.
The Parish is where our faith meets the real world. The Parish and the various personalities in it, test the depth of our following of Christ.
The Parish should not be just a place you come to visit – then leave. It is also a place where you live out your commitment to Christ and other parishioners, where you live out the Gospel message – where you come not just to be served – but also to serve.
Regrettably, some people don’t understand this. They fall in love with a particular parish but when that parish seeks a commitment, they go somewhere else. Their commitment to the Lord never has grip. We need not only the universal church, but the local parish where our commitment to Christ gets traction, where we move from the ideal to the real.
Lots of ideas and ways of thinking are ready to snatch us away from Christ, to lure us away. In a world of many voices, through the church, even with its own scandals, the voice of the Good Shepherd is always with us.