PS: 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Picture: 
Sheeps without a Shepherd
Body: 

Each week, a Dominican member of the Provincial Preaching Advisory board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.

Sketchbook

Pope Benedict XVI

At this time of year when so many of you are taking your annual holiday, I pray that you will truly find refreshment for body and spirit and an opportunity to rest in the Lord. Jesus invites all of us to come to him, whatever burdens we may be carrying, whatever labours we may be engaged in, because in him we will find rest….the true remedy for the wounds of humanity, be they material or psychological and moral, is a rule of life based on love brotherly love, which has its source in God.

Pope Benedict XVI

Venerable Pius XII established the Pontifical Work of Priestly Vocations as a response to the call of the Good Shepherd who, “when he saw the crowds, had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd”…the work of carefully encouraging and supporting vocations finds a radiant source of inspiration in the Gospel where Jesus calls his disciples to follow him and trains them with love and care. We should pay close attention to the way Jesus called his closest associates to proclaim the Kingdom of God. It is clear that the first thing he did was to pray for them: before calling them, Jesus spent the night alone in prayer, listening to the will of the Father in a spirit of interior detachment from mundane concerns. It is Jesus’ intimate conversation with the Father which results in the calling of his disciples. Vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life are first and foremost the fruit of constant contact with the living God and insistent prayer lifted up to the “Lord of the harvest”, whether in parish communities, in Christian families or in groups specifically devoted to prayer for vocations.

Pope Benedict XVI

The early Church described Baptism as fortissimos, as the Sacrament of illumination, as a communication of light, and linked it inseparably with the resurrection of Christ. In Baptism, God says to the candidate: “Let there be light!” The candidate is brought into the light of Christ. Christ now divides the light from the darkness. In him we recognize what is true and what is false, what is radiance and what is darkness. With him, there wells up within us the light of truth, and we begin to understand. On one occasion when Christ looked upon the people who had come to listen to him, seeking some guidance from him, he felt compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd (cf. Mk 6:34). Amid the contradictory messages of that time, they did not know which way to turn. What great compassion he must feel in our own time too – on account of all the endless talk that people hide behind, while in reality they are totally confused. Where must we go? What are the values by which we can order our lives? The values by which we can educate our young, without giving them norms they may be unable to resist, or demanding of them things that perhaps should not be imposed upon them? He is the Light.

Attributed to St. Jerome

Little indeed is the rest of the saints here on earth, long is their labor, but afterwards, they are bidden to rest from their labors. But as in the ark of Noah, the animals that were within were sent forth, and they that were without rushed in, so is it in the Church, Judas went, the thief came to Christ. But as long as men go back from the faith, the Church can have no refuge from grief; for Rachel weeping for her children would not be comforted. Moreover, this world is not the banquet, in which the new wine is drank, when the new song will be sung by men made anew, when this mortal shall have put on immortality.

Bl. Pope John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis

“I will give you shepherds after my own heart” (Jer 3,15).  Today, this promise of God is still living and at work in the Church. At all times, she knows she is the fortunate receiver of these prophetic words. She sees them put into practice daily in so many parts of the world, or rather, in so many human hearts, young hearts in particular. On the threshold of the third millennium, and in the face of the serious and urgent needs which confront the Church and the world, she yearns to see this promise fulfilled in a new and richer way, more intensely and effectively: She hopes for an extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit of Pentecost.  The Lord’s promise calls forth from the heart of the Church a prayer, that is a confident and burning petition in the love of the Father, who, just as he has sent Jesus the good shepherd, the apostles, their successors and a countless host of priests, will continue to show to the people of today his faithfulness, his goodness.  And the Church is ready to respond to this grace. She feels in her heart that God’s gift begs for a united and generous reply: The entire People of God should pray and work tirelessly for priestly vocations. Candidates for the priesthood should prepare themselves very conscientiously to welcome God’s gift and put it into practice, knowing that the Church and the world have an absolute need of them. They should deepen their love for Christ the good shepherd, pattern their hearts on his, be ready to go out as his image into the highways of the world to proclaim to all mankind Christ the way, the truth and the life.

The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 6

In the old Testament the revelation of the Kingdom is often conveyed by means of metaphors. In the same way the inner nature of the Church is now made known to us in different images taken either from tending sheep or cultivating the land, from building or even from family life and betrothals, the images receive preparatory shaping in the books of the Prophets.  The Church is a sheepfold whose one and indispensable door is Christ.  It is a flock of which God Himself foretold He would be the shepherd, and whose sheep, although ruled by human shepherds; are nevertheless continuously led and nourished by Christ Himself, the Good Shepherd and the Prince of the shepherds, who gave His life for the sheep.

 

Fr. Kevin Gabriel Gillen, OP