The Good Shepherd Calls, Answer Him
A Reflection on the Readings for April 25, 2021 based on the readings from:
Acts 4:8-12, Psalm 118, 1 John 3:1-2, John 10:11-18
By Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFM, Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Order Franciscans of Mercy
In the Gospel of John 10:11-18 we hear the story of how Jesus likened himself to a good shepherd. Jesus relates how a hired hand is only interested in receiving his wages while the truly good shepherd is concerned for all of the flock. The Gospel also relates how Jesus informs us that He has other sheep that do not belong to this fold and He is there to lead them also.
In the ancient times, the good kings of the world considered themselves the shepherds of their people. In other words, they had a responsibility to the people they ruled. It is too bad that in this day and age the worlds rulers do not consider that they have a responsibility for their subjects but look upon their subjects as people who are their to comply with their every wish no matter how inhuman it is.
Christ, the Good Shepherd, considers every human on the face of the earth to be his responsibility. He does not want to loose even one of them. Christ’s love for all of His brothers and sisters is unending and without limitations.
Christ took a stand in life on the side of all the downtrodden, distressed, alienated, sick, and outcasts of His society and still does today, in spite of what some church leaders and faithful have to say. They cannot speak for God or Jesus Christ, when their actions are totally opposite what Jesus preached.
Jesus so loved all of us that he was willing to lay down his life for us so that we could have redemption and access to the Eternal life with God (John 10:14). Christ took on all the sins of the world in His flesh and died in the flesh so that all sin could die with Him. His rising from death gave life to forgiveness and everlasting life.
Jesus Christ, The Good Shepherd, is seeking out all those who have felt unwanted and rejected and attempting to call you back to His loving care. Do not go hiding in the dark brambles of sin and deception but come out into the light of the Truth. The Truth as spoken and taught by Jesus Christ.
In Baptism, we are called to be sons of God, free of sin, and to live according to the teachings of Jesus.
It is not through power, prestige, wealth, or fame that we are saved, but it is Love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and generosity. The impatience of man is what destroys the world. We need to acquire the patience of God and this is not an easy task, especially in this world of instant gratification.
Christ calls each of as, as he said to Peter, “Feed My Sheep”. We feed Christ sheep by respecting and loving all God’s children.
As priests, we are called even more so to proclaim God’s love and to fight against injustice. We need to be supportive of all the sheep of the flock, not just the healthy but even more so those who are ill. Those who need to feel that God truly loves them and wants them to live in His pasture.
God is calling us to come home, home to the truth and the nourishment of the Eucharist.
Saturday, my grandson received his first Eucharist, what a joy it was to watch Him as he welcomed Christ into him. I rejoiced at how happy he was to partake of the Bread of Live that Christ has given to us in the Eucharist and I implored him to remain close to God and to Receive the live sustaining Eucharist as often as possible. The Good Shepherd will take good care of Him and of us, if we but seek out the light of His truth within our hearts and return to His loving care. AMEN
5 Essential things used at Mass and their symbolism
In the Catholic Church, many physical objects are used at Mass that to the casual observer may appear random. The truth is the exact opposite.
Each item used at Mass is there for a specific purpose and has beautiful symbolism behind it. Here is a list of the most common objects you may see at Mass and why the Church finds them spiritually useful. (You can click on the links to learn more about the symbolism.)
Candles have always been used in the Church in a symbolic way. From ancient times the lighted candle has been seen as a symbol of the light of Christ. This is clearly expressed at the Easter Vigil, when the deacon or priest enters the darkened church with the single Easter candle. Jesus came into our world of sin and death to bring the light of God to us. He expressed this idea clearly in the Gospel of John: “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
There are some who also point to the use of candles as a remembrance of the early Christians who celebrated Mass in the catacombs by candlelight. It is said that this should remind us of the sacrifice they made as well as the possibility that we too could be in a similar situation, celebrating Mass under threat of persecution.
Incense was a vital part of worship for many ancient religions, including the Jewish worship of God. In the Tabernacle, as well as the Temple, God commanded that an “altar of incense” be built. God directed that Aaron, the High Priest, “shall burn it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations” (Exodus 30:8).
Connected to this tradition is the best known phrase mentioning incense in the Old Testament, “Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice” (Psalm 141:2). Christians quickly adopted the use of incense, and it appears prominently in the book of Revelation in the heavenly liturgy, where St. John describes, “the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God” (Revelation 8:4).
Christopher Carstens explains that the Mass is more a heavenly banquet than a re-enactment of an ordinary Passover meal.
Does it matter that Christ may not have used a “precious chalice” at the Last Supper? That he used a chalice is imperative for the Church and her re-presentation of his sacrifice; and while it may be that the chalice was not outwardly precious, it was made precious by its contents. For while the Mass and its Eucharistic prayer hearken back to actions of Christ in the upper room some two thousand years ago, that historical action currently exists in heavenly splendor, which is why it can be made present to us at all. The cup of the first Paschal meal in time is now furnished with divine splendors and is “the chalice of great joy, of the true feast, for which we all long,” and it is this divine chalice that our sacramental chalice emulates. The Mass is viewed in Catholic theology as the “wedding feast of the Lamb” found in the book of Revelation. It is meant to remind us of and draw us toward our heavenly home and the place where we will encounter the Bridegroom in all of his glory. Even more so, the Mass it not simply a reminder of heaven, it is where “heaven and earth kiss.” The sacrifice of the Mass brings us into contact with the divine and literally raises us up into heaven.
Over the chalice is laid the purificator, a fine white linen cloth that is used to wipe the lips and fingers of the priest and to cleanse the chalice after Communion. The sacristan — the person who cares for the sacred vessels and linens — cleans the purificator separately from other linens after Mass, because it holds traces of the Precious Blood. The paten (from the Latin word for pan or plate) is a saucer-like circular dish of or lined with precious metal. At Mass, the priest places the large primary host on the paten, where at the consecration it (and other smaller hosts to be received by the congregation, held in a container called the ciborium) becomes the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Where congregants receive Communion on the tongue, a server may hold a plate (also called a paten) under the communicant’s chin, so that no consecrated host or particle falls to the ground. In preparing the vessels for Mass, the paten with the large unconsecrated host is set atop the chalice, with the purificator underneath it. Before the offertory of the Mass, the chalice is covered with a square of linen stiffened with cardboard. This covering, called the pall (from the Latin word for “cover”), keeps foreign objects — like dust or insects — from falling into the chalice or onto the paten and contaminating them.
The chasuble is seen as the “yoke of Christ” and reminds the priest that he is “another Christ” in the sacrifice of the Mass and has “put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth” (Ephesians 4:24).
Additionally, the chasuble symbolizes the “seamless garment” worn by Christ when he was led to his crucifixion. This further accentuates the connection between the priest, the Mass, and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. A common ornamentation of the chasuble is a large cross on the back or front of the vestment to further cement the symbolism. The color of vestments is coordinated with the symbolic color of the liturgical season or feast featured below.
White; Light, innocence, purity, joy, triumph, glory
Season of Christmas, Season of Easter, Feasts of the Lord, other than of His passion
Feasts of Mary, the angels, and saints who were not martyrs, All Saints (1 November)
Feasts of the Apostles, Nuptial Masses, Masses for the dead (Requiem Masses) when the deceased is a baptized child who died before the age of reason Note: White is the color of Popes’ non-liturgical dress. White can be replaced by Silver.
Red; The Passion, blood, fire, God’s Love, martyrdom
Feasts of the Lord’s passion, Blood, and Cross, Feasts of the martyrs, Palm Sunday
Pentecost. Note: Red is the color of Cardinals’ non-liturgical dress
Green; The Holy Ghost, life eternal, hope
Time After Epiphany; Time After Pentecost
Violet; Penance, humility, melancholy
Season of Advent, Season of Septuagesima, Season of Lent, Rogation Days
Ember Days (except for Pentecost Ember Days), Vigils except for Ascension and Pentecost
Black; Mourning, Sorrow
All Souls Day; Masses for the dead (Requiem Masses), except for baptized children who’ve died before the age of reason
Gaudete Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent)
Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent)
Ο Χριστός αναστήθηκε από τους νεκρούς
Celebrating Orthodox Easter May 2, 2021
On the Great and Holy Feast of Pascha, Orthodox Christians celebrate the life-giving Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This feast of feasts is the most significant day in the life of the Church.
It is a celebration of the defeat of death, as neither death itself nor the power of the grave could hold our Savior captive.
In this victory that came through the Cross, Christ broke the bondage of sin, and through faith offers us restoration, transformation, and eternal life. AMEN