Fourth Sunday of Easter
A Homily - Cycle A - 2013-2014
First Reading - Acts 2:14a, 36-41
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Second Reading - 1 Peter 2:20b-25
Gospel - John 10:1-10
John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
Jesus said: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers," Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.
So Jesus said again, "Amen, amen, I say to you , I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly."
Just like there are ingredients necessary for a cake, there is one ingredient (amongst others) which is necessary for priests. That ingredient is - - - Good mothers! I give thanks to God for my own. A good mother provides comfort in those key junctures in life, especially when significant change is in the wind. I think it was after graduation from the Academy, coming back on leave from Pearl Harbor (tough duty! Going on vacation from Hawai’i), mom and I would go on morning walks where we talked about life in the hardship of Hawai’I, happenings at home, etc. etc. But in that etcetera I would start to talk about the Lord who seemed to be speaking to my heart, perhaps calling me to be a priest. Hmmmm . . . priest, of all things. I didn’t know any other peers who were priests. I didn’t personally know anyone else in my family who had pursued a religious vocation, a vocation that meant giving up a wife and children! (I was basically thinking-praying out loud). Plus, that meant that giving up future grandsons, granddaughters for mom and dad . . . to which I remember mom saying to me, “we support you either way, Luke – besides, it’s not about what we want, it’s about what the Lord wants for you.” I couldn’t ask for more than that, and so to hear her voice greet me after ordination, was itself a gift that I’ll never forget.
A good mother, helps the children learn to listen, not just to her voice, but most of all to the One who is always speaking to them. A good mother helps us learn how to know what the voice of the Good Shepherd sounds like. She helps us to recognize that voice and follow that voice, so that we are always safe, so that we are always on the path that has already been traced for us.
There is a mother, of course, who does this best. We already know her name. And today, using our moms as examples of how good she is at this, I’d like to remind ourselves of how amazing a gift it is from God, to have Mary as a mother, for she continues to look out for us, she continues to teach us, she continues to help us recognize the voice of her Son. There is one truth that never changes (remember this if you remember nothing else today) – God continues to speak to us, to each of us, in EVERY SINGLE EVENT of our lives. But do we know how to listen? Do we know how to listen to what is communicated to us through the holy words we just heard? Is it hard to listen? Is it hard to understand?
Mothers usually teach us the most powerful truths through the simplest means. Mom first taught us the Bible through picture books, and the Virgin Mary reveals the voice of the Good shepherd through a time-honored prayer which has been praised by popes more than any other type of prayer – that prayer is the Rosary. I recognize that the rosary is not everyone’s favorite – the Little Flower couldn’t stand it! But when so many popes have written about this prayer, there must be something to it . . . especially for us who have so much going on in our lives. For example, I might start the rosary, get onto the first decade (the Annunciation), and then remember that I forgot to talk to Fr. Donahue. Then I get to the second decade (the Visitation), and then think about what I’m going to have for lunch. I get to the third decade, start to fall asleep, and so forth and so on, so that by the end of the rosary, I’ve had a complete experience of what’s going on in my head, or better yet, I’ve had a complete experience of what’s going on in my life . . . AND (this is the key) I’ve been covering the biggest mysteries of my salvation! So the distractions are actually NOT a loss or a failure. I used to think that it was . . . and then I realized, perhaps that Lord actually SPEAKS to me through those distractions. I’m going back to those amazing moments in HIS life . . . in my day dreaming, He is able to speak to the significant happenings in my OWN life! What, a conversation with Fr. Donahue, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, what’s significant about that? (sorry, every conversation with Fr. Donahue in special!!!) - - - it may not seem significant to us, but the Lord can and DOES speak to us in the most mundane moments of our life, showing us that, actually, nothing is mundane, EVERYTHING is a moment where the Good Shepherd is speaking to our heart, we just have to learn how to listen. Thank God for moms who give us the simplest words to help us listen, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee . . . “ Dearest Mother, we thank you for helping us listen to your Son. May we continue to learn how the stories of our faith, are inter-twined with the stories of our own life, so that what we believe, becomes the way we live. Amen.