May 8, 2022

Deacon Tim Papa Homily
Christ and Mom: Both Good Shepherds

Fourth Sunday of Easter Cycle C

Acts 13:14, 43-52; Revelation 7:9, 14:1-7; John 10:27-30

There was an adolescent boy who one day came to his mom and gave her a note. It caused her to cry a little. She remembered some advice from her own mother: your child will cause you pain at times during his life, but it is usually without knowing that it would. So try to love just that much harder, and it will work its way out. So she took a moment to think about it, and how to respond. The note read: “Invoice. For mowing the lawn: $5. For babysitting my younger brother while you ran to the store: $1. For cleaning up my room: 25 cents. For a good report card: $3. For being good in church: 75 cents.” Now, knowing that he wanted to buy a video game that cost about $10, she knew what he was up to, and where his heart really was.

So she turned the paper over, and wrote something on the back. Now it was the boy’s turn to cry a little. He ripped up the note and hugged his mother. What had she written? “For carrying you nine months and then giving you birth: No charge. For staying up all night when you were sick: no charge. For taking you to all of your soccer games and friends’ birthday parties: no charge. For helping you with your homework: no charge. For doing all I could to see that you were the best person you could be: no charge.”

This weekend, the fourth Sunday after Easter, is known as Good Shepherd Sunday, since in all three years of our lectionary cycle we have a reading from Chapter 10 of John referring to Christ as a good shepherd who takes loving care of his sheep. What a happy coincidence that this year it falls on the same exact day as does Mother’s Day. A mother’s care is similar in many respects to the care a shepherd takes of his or her flock. Christ is the Good Shepard that the Father sent so that we could know the way. Could not the back of that piece of paper from the story, if addressed to us gathered here as followers of Jesus, have read: “For creating you and the world around you: no charge. For saving you from the bonds of sin: no charge. For continuing to save you from the bonds of sin, and again, and again: no charge. For showing you the way to true joy and peace: no charge. For dying for you: no charge.”

It is the Easter Season, and therefore we celebrate the wonderful life that God has given to us now, and for the promise of eternal life that Christ has won for us in the future. We will have plenty of time to talk about other passages in the Gospels which are harder, which ask us to take up our cross, and remind us of the penalty for sin if we don’t repent, atone, and try to avoid it. We just finished the time where we remembered the suffering and pain that Jesus endured, but that was Lent. There will be a season to remember the time that we wait for and experience the promise that we could be redeemed, but that is Advent and Christmas. No, now, at Easter, we celebrate that God's promise has been fulfilled, and we stand confident that we can meet the future, both in this world and the next, and are saved. All we need do is listen to his voice, and follow when he calls. He assures us that he will always be there for us.

There is a sentence in the second reading that, in a single Bible verse, summarizes the Easter mystery in a way that will confound a non-Christian. It said: “For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” [Rev 7:17 NABRE]. Now we're back to where we started this homily: a mother, who has also wiped away many tears, her own as well as those of her family. When we are young, and need someone to look out for us, who's there? Mom. She leads us when we are young and takes care of us. We know her voice, even in the middle of a large group of people. She does whatever is necessary to see us to adulthood. Once we reach that age when mom lets us go off on our own, we, especially us men, have a problem admitting that we are not totally independent, in need of some guidance and some help. But we sooner or later come to the realization that we are not an island unto ourselves, but have an innate need to understand our creator, and come to realize that true joy in life comes to those who understand and obey those teachings that the Good Shepherd has given us, and we follow that lead. Then it is God's turn to wipe the tears from our eyes, for first we need to admit that we need God and then allow him to do it.

As we continue with our Mass, let us ask the Lord for the strength through the holy sacrament of the Eucharist to do his will and follow him. Let us ask the Lord for the wisdom to know his voice when he speaks to us through the Holy Spirit, and to follow his lead. Let us ask the Lord for his healing power when we fail to live up to his loving example. And let us ask his blessing on all the mothers in the world, that they are given all of God's gifts to carry out that most important vocation in life – bearing and raising the children of God. We celebrate the the power and the wisdom of God at all Masses, but also today on this special weekend the power and wisdom of mothers.

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