Monday, May 16, 2011

might have life abundant

This week Jesus reminds us that he is the Gate keeper for the sheep. He is the Good Shepherd who calls to his sheep and they hear his voice and follow after him.

The image of the Good Shepherd is one of the most popular images of Jesus in the world today. In fact, in the early church it was Jesus the Good Shepherd who brought comfort to those who were being persecuted and killed because of their faith and religious beliefs.

In a cemetery outside of Rome that dates to the 3rd century, the catacombs of St. Callixtus, there among the tombs of the Christians who were killed for living their faith is a statue of Jesus the Good Shepherd. This statute is 1700 years old.

This image was the anchor of faith for the Christians as they saw their families and loved ones carried off to be killed. It continues to anchor our faith.
We all like the image of the shepherd who leads us and guides us to pastures to refresh our soul. We like the image of the shepherd whose rod and staff give us courage.

Jesus says that the sheep follow the shepherd because they recognize his voice. This is the goal in life. We must seek to recognize the voice of Christ in our life. Only in hearing his voice will we discover life abundant. And once we have heard is voice no other voice will do.

But there are a lot of voices trying to get us to live our life in a particular way.

Here is our question. How do we hear the voice of Christ? How do we know we are listening to the right voice and following the right shepherd home?

There are a few things that can guarantee that we are in deed listening to the right shepherd, that we have our ears tuned in to the voice of truth and love.

One) As Christians we must read sacred scripture. St. Jerome tells us that ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ. The bible helps us meet Jesus in action. If we do have the stamina for the whole bible we should at least read the four gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Letter to the Hebrews, and the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament. Reading and rereading these we cqn see the real Christ rise before us. Praying we talk to God, but in reading God talks to us. We must expose our selves to scripture.

Second) We must inform ourselves of the teachings of the Church. Even the hard and difficult teachings. The Church, the bishops in union with the Pope, the successors of Peter and the Apostles, have been given the task of guiding us in the way of truth and love from one generation to the next. The Church is the living voice of Christ interpreting for us how to implement the gospel into our daily lives. The living voice of the church comes to purify our opinions. There are many opinions but only one truth. We cannot piece meal the truth.

Third) we must go to Mass each Sunday. When we gather as a community once again we expose ourselves to Christ who makes himself present to us. HE is present in the proclamation of the Word. In a three year cycle we would have heard a large portion of the bible, God’s revelation, at Sunday Liturgy. God wants to have a word with us each Sunday as a community. We are not individual sheep but we belong to a flock. Then he comes to us in the Eucharist, his real presence to speak to each of us and nourish us. The good Shepherd in the Eucharist leads us to green pastures and refreshes our souls every time we “Amen” to the body of Christ.

Fourth) we should pray the rosary. Since this is the month of May I thought I would comment on the Rosary a bit.

This past Friday we celebrated the anniversary of the Blessed Virgin Mary appearing to three children in Portugal on May 13, 1917.

Mary, when she appears, she always has the same message. 1) don’t offend the Lord by our sin. We should be careful and prudent.

2)Pray for the conversion of sinners for peace in the world. Instead of rejoicing at the death of Bin Laden we should pray for those like him so that God may untwist the twisted.

Jesus says that heaven rejoices over one repentant sinner; should our prayers not give heaven a cause to rejoice.

3)She asked the children to pray the rosary daily so that they and others would hear the voice of Christ.

As we honor Mary this month with flowers as our mother and queen of Heaven, let us think about the rosary as God's gift to us.

All battles worth fighting require the proper weapons. There rosary is a proven instrument in helping us stay in tuned with the voice of Christ.

The rosary enables us to mediate on the face of Christ through the eyes of his mother. No one knows the Son better than his mother.

As we recite the rosary, we walk in the footsteps of Christ, thus Christ is put at the center of our life.

Keeping Christ at the center enables us to weather the storms of life and to fight the good fight and run the race of faith.

The rosary works on a human level because it engages the whole human person. It involves our speech and our hearing. It occupies our mind and incites our emotions. This way God can sanctify our mind, heart, and emotions as we meditate on the mysteries of sorrow, joy, light and glory. It assigns a task to our fingertips, those sensitive organs of touch.
Thus we fulfill the command of Christ who tells Thomas to see and touch his hands and feet and thus believe.

The rosary is an invitation to believe through our senses ad allow the grace of redemption to affect sensible nature.

The rosary incorporates the prayer Jesus taught us. As we pray the "our Father" we let the words of God roll around in our mind and our heart. Is there a better way to honor God then by letting his prayer be in our hearts and our minds as we seek to let his will be done on earth as it is in heaven?

At the beginning of the Hail Mary we simply recite the words of the Angel Gabriel that inaugurates Jesus in to History, "Hail, full of grace the Lord is with you."

These words are words of rejoicing. Mary is invited to rejoice because God has a plan in Christ to recreate the world in his grace. As often as we say these words, we are invited to enter into God’s plan; we are invited to remember that in deed in the mess of our life will make sense in the palm of God’s hand. God has plan and do we not need to remember and recall this often as we journey forth.

The words of rejoicing fill our life.

At the center of the prayer is the invocation of the Divine name, "blessed be the fruit of your womb, Jesus." On our lips is the name above every other name, that has brought redemption in to our world. What healing power is invoked as we say his name over and over again.

Once that name is pressed upon our lips, it should change how we speak any and every word. We should be softer, gentler, more meaningful with the words we share with others. Already redemption is taking over by the invocation of such a name.

Then with each mystery we ponder the life of Christ and ask Mary to lead us into a deeper understanding of Jesus life. Who better to lead us than his mother who walked with him every step of the way.

We think about truth, goodness, and beauty as we think about the life of Christ, his ministry, his service, his teaching. We hear his voice more clearly and thus we learn to do as he did as we conform our will to his.

We see goodness in action as we follow Christ. We see what he loves and how he loves and thus we learn to love what is good for us from goodness itself.

The most important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived and the steps of Christ are retraced. With Mary's guiding hand Christ is put at the center of our life, our time, our city. Through the mysteries of joy, light, sorrow, and glory we welcome the grace of Christ in our hearts and minds and thus the newness of God purifies our relationships.

In the recitation of the rosary the victory of grace fills our hearts and minds and we are strengthen to hear the voice of the Good shepherd and let him lead us to life abundant.

Who better to take us to the shepherd of our souls then the mother of the shepherd. We must ask Mary to lead us to Christ and only then do we truly experience the grace of true life.

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