April 21, 2024

On this middle Sunday in April, we continue our celebration of the glorious season of Easter, observing the Fourth Sunday of Easter. This Sunday is traditionally known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” This came to be because in all three cycles of the Lectionary, the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Easter gives us one of the Good Shepherd sayings from John’s Gospel. “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” “The sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” Besides being a very comforting and reassuring saying, it also helps us to continue our Easter reflection on the gift of the Eucharist – one of the Sacraments of Initiation we celebrated at the Easter Vigil. As the shepherd feeds his sheep, so does the Lord feed us.     

“Thanks be to God, throughout the history of the church it has always been clear that a person’s perfection is measured not by the information or knowledge they may possess, but by the depth of their charity.”

Pope Francis

Now that the Octave of Easter (first 8 days of the season) is past, we settle into a gradual reflection on the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation & Eucharist) that were celebrated at the Easter Vigil. We began the second week of the season with a reflection on Baptism and found our daily Mass gospels coming from John’s Gospel, Chapter 3. In his conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus taught of the need to be born again. We were led back to the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday when we renewed our Baptism Promises. In Baptism, we were buried with the Lord so that we might rise with him from the grave of Baptism to new life. We are invited to appreciate the gift of our Baptism in new ways. A week ago Friday, we began reading from John’s Gospel, Chapter 6 – the Bread of Life discourse. It began our reflection on the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Following a miraculous feeding of the crowds who were with him, Jesus begins to teach them that he himself is the Bread of Life. This is a major teaching section in John’s Gospel. Hearing it now in the middle of the Easter Season gives us a chance to truly appreciate that Jesus is the living bread that has come down from heaven. It was his body that gave us a new birth in our baptism. Now that same body nourishes life through the Eucharist. This Friday we will begin hearing from the Farewell Discourse (John 14 and following) in John’s Gospel. It will invite us to appreciate the gift of the Spirit, given to us in Confirmation, as our source of strength as we follow Jesus as his disciples.     

Since Easter is the primary season of initiation into the church community, we intentionally schedule our special celebrations of the Sacraments of Initiation (First Communion and Confirmation) during the Easter Season. Our Confirmation Masses last Monday and Tuesday were great celebrations of Jesus’ gift of the Spirit to strengthen his disciples and help them become better disciples day by day. This Saturday, we will celebrate two First Communion Masses, and we will conclude with two more the following Saturday. Congratulations to all of our young parishioners who were confirmed this past week and to those celebrating their First Communion this year. We are keeping you in prayer as you take these next steps in your faith lives. While Confirmation is a once in a lifetime event, the Eucharist is available to us daily. With the Eucharist so available to us every day, it is easy to forget what a wonderful gift we have from the Lord. Our 2nd graders remind us of this as they come to the altar for the first time. Congratulations to their parents for bringing them to this point in their lives. Thank you also to Laura Long, our Faith Formation staff, our catechists and our grade school teachers who have assisted their parents in preparing our young people for this new beginning.

We were happy to announce at our Masses last weekend that Father John Balluff will be assigned as the next pastor of St. Isidore effective on July 1. He is currently serving as the Vicar for Priests in our diocese. He is an experienced pastor and is fluent in Spanish. More information on his background will be available in the weeks ahead.

Next Sunday, we will have the opportunity to join with the other parishes in our diocese to support the annual Catholic Home Missions Appeal. The U.S. Bishops established this appeal in 1998 to support the missions here in America. Envelopes are included in the packets mailed to our homes. Donations may also be made on our parish website. Thank you in advance for your generosity and support.

May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.

– Father Jim Murphy