A word from Pope Francis ~ “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.”
On this final 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, such as, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep,” and “The sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them, out.” Besides these being very comforting and reassuring sayings, they also help 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.
Now that the octave (the first 8 days of the season) is past, we settle into a gradual reflection on the Sacraments of Initiation that were celebrated at the Easter Vigil (Baptism, Confirmation & Eucharist). 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 him 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 that life through the Eucharist. This Friday, we will begin hearing from the Farewell Discourse (John 14 and following). It will invite us to appreciate the gift of the Spirit, given to us in Confirmation, as our source of strength when 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. We celebrated Confirmation on April 18 and 19. Yesterday, we celebrated two First Communion Masses, and we will conclude with another First Communion Mass this Saturday. Congratulations to all of our young parishioners who are celebrating their First Communion this year. It is wonderful watching them as they take this next step in their faith lives. Their enthusiasm is contagious. 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 to our Director of Religious Education, Vera Zielinski, to our Faith Formation staff and to our catechists, who have assisted the parents of our parish in preparing our young people for this new beginning.
This weekend, 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 mission dioceses here in America. Envelopes are included in the packets mailed to our homes. Additional donations may be made on our parish website. Thank you in advance for your generosity and support.
Next Sunday, we will celebrate our parish May Crowning at the 10:00 am Mass. May has traditionally been dedicated to honoring Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Our parish May Crowning will be led by representatives of the St. Isidore Catholic School 8th grade class and representatives of our Council of Catholic Women. Our CCW Woman of the Year will also assist.
May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy