Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day and the Good Shepherd

Note: I realize it's been two months since I posted. This is mostly because of the whirlwind we came back to in Chicago after our 9 week trip to the Holy Land. I was greeted with 2 exams, one language the other comprehensive, 3 papers, and my ordination to the diaconate. Now that this is all over I have a little breathing room. This is the first homily I gave, slightly edited. Please enjoy! Attached are the reading for this past Sunday.
From my first mass. (I'm on the left)

After being ordained on May 10th I talked to a number of people. I spoke with one of the little Oblate Sisters of Jesus the Priest and thanked her for her service and her prayers. Her words were simple, "We are always praying for you." She then added, "Be holy."

While this is good advice for me it's good advice for us as well: Be holy.

Holiness has many aspects, but one aspect relevant for today is that we recognize God in all moments of our life or, another way of putting it, is recognizing that God has always been with us along the way.

When considering this it is profitable this Mother's Day to think of the mothers, grandmothers, wives, and women who are there and were there in our lives. It's even more profitable to use these experiences of such women as an image that reflects God's love.

The prophet Isaiah says, "Can a mother forget her child, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even if she should forget, I will never forget you" (Is 49:15). God's love for us is compared to that of a mother's love for her child, if not stronger, and we all know how strong a mother's love is. Moreover, God says through the prophet Hosea, "It was I who taught Ephriam how to walk, who took them in my arms" (Hos 11:3). Remember the joy, excitement, and wonder you had seeing your child's first steps? Know that God has this same affection for each of you. Lastly, call to mind a mother or father who hold their children in their arms. Hear the Lord's words: "The Lord your God, who goes before you is the one who will fight for you ... and in the wilderness you saw how [I] carried you, as one carries his own child, all along your journey" (Dt 1:30, 31). The child they hold depends on them, feels safe in their arms, and loves them with simplicity, so too with your own children. This is our relationship with God who holds us in His hands.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, walks before us. He cares for us and watches over us. Priests, and now me as a deacon, are called to be shepherds as Christ is: to love all of you as Christ does, to live His Gospel as a model for you so you can recognize the Good Shepherd's voice when he calls each of you by name.

Pray for us priests and deacons this holy day, for the sheep need their shepherd and the shepherd his sheep. May we all live and grow in love and peace to have life and have it more abundantly.