I find it interesting that in Bishop Oscar’s homily at last weekend’s Confirmation he talked about the biblical meaning of “feeding.” We might recall that last Sunday’s gospel was about the Risen Jesus’ third appearance to the disciples. John tells us that after having breakfast with his disciples, Jesus asks Peter the question: “Do you love Me?” three times. We, the readers and listeners, of course, know what was happening. It was Peter’s way of re-affirming and restoring his relationship with Jesus. He denied Jesus three times the night before He died. So, he is being asked three time to re-affirm his friendship with the Lord.
Peter’s response, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you,” entails action or service of feeding and tending. His love for Jesus is now manifested in his love for others. Peter will not only serve as the leader of the Twelve, but he will also be the chief shepherd of God’s people.
I believe it is providential to reflect on both the gospel story of last week and Bishop Oscar’s homily as we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. Both invite us to reflect on how we can emulate the Risen Jesus. When Jesus said: “I am the Bread of Life,” He did not just mean literal food. Rather He meant how can we give life to others – supporting, caring, forgiving, healing, and loving. That is what Jesus did in His ministry. He fed people with God’s mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and unconditional love.
This weekend, we remember and celebrate our mothers. They are the epitome of the Good Shepherd. As they nurture, herd, support, care, and love us, we experience in a real way the very presence of God. As they challenge us from time to time, we come to know that our God only want us to grow and become true to who we really are – God’s beloved children. When they welcome us, understand us, have patience with us, and love us unconditionally, God becomes even more palpable.
As we honor all mothers, we thank them for saying YES to the vocation of motherhood, and we also remember those who have fulfilled the role of mother to us. We pray for them and ask God’s blessings upon them. To the mothers who have gone before us in faith, we remember them as well.
This Good Shepherd Sunday is also a day to pray for all our priests – active, retired and those who are now with the Lord. We pray for those who have served our parish community, our diocese, and those who have been instrumental in our lives. We ask the Good Lord to give us more priests who are molded after the heart of Jesus, the one and only true Good Shepherd.
Along this line of thought, we ask your help in supporting this weekend’s second collection which benefits our Priests’ Retirement Fund. Our retired priests rely on their minimal Social Security pension since they were paid very modest wages and the Priest Retirement Plan payments for their living expenses and end-of-life needs. Our gift to the Diocesan Priest Retirement Appeal provides vital funding for medications, nursing care, and more to these priests who have been good shepherds and have kept their promises to the faithful of the Diocese.
On behalf of my brother priests, thank you for your continued support and prayers. We pray that like the mothers who are faithful to their vocation, may all the priests of our diocese be faithful in their ministry of tending and feeding the flock of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.