Welcome to CatholicPreacher! I use this page as a type of archive of my thoughts for my Sunday homily.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Third Sunday of Easter

Sheepish Leaders

If you knew God was speaking to you, it is likely you would listen. It is even more likely that you would be trembling in fear and, like countless times in the Bible, have to be encouraged not to be afraid. 
In the Gospel of John, we hear Jesus speaking as the Good Shepherd, which makes us sheep. Sheep have the reputation for being rather dull, but I suppose if you look at the course of history from the outside, say the way an alien race might see us, perhaps the sheep would come out ahead.
In the gospel reading, Jesus does not lead with a conditional statement: “If my sheep hear my voice”, he says “My sheep hear my voice”; it is a declaration. As a matter of fact, real sheep (not metaphorical ones) have been reported to be as good as people in distinguishing others in a crowd (Sheep 101.info). So why use sheep to make his point?
As in most of Jesus’ figurative statements, he uses something familiar to his audience; however, like Paul and Barnabas in the first reading, his audience was divided: some followed, some thought he was a nut.
The Gospel of Christ isn’t a very attractive philosophy. Following is, for us, a becoming, a transformation into someone who recognizes Christ by his “voice”. Where do we hear Christ’s voice?  Most clearly, we hear the voice of Christ in those who are oppressed, who are marginalized and unjustly punished, who are poor in spirit and materially poor (the two often go together).  It is the “least of these”; but to put this phrase in context from the 25th Chapter of Matthew, the “least” are his disciples. Following Christ puts us at the end of the line, so the poor become not always those outside our community, but those inside our community as well. It is in our poverty, the ordinariness of our daily lives, that Christ speaks, and we respond.  Last week, Christ said to his disciples “Feed my sheep”; we are those sheep; we are those shepherds.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Second Sunday of Easter

He Reveals Himself in This Way
This is an incredible story that resonates with an earlier account of Jesus giving fishing advice to fisherman. In Luke chapter 5, Jesus has the disciples “put out for deep water” and fish. The boat was overwhelmed with fish. Also in Luke’s account, Simon Peter was the “voice” of the disciples and “fell down at Jesus’ knees saying ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man”.  In today’s gospel, however, Peter launches himself half-naked into the water and swims ashore ahead of the rest only to be confronted by one questions asked three times: “Do you love me”. Three times Peter affirms his loyalty, which some commentators suggest is an undoing of Peter’s denial of Christ three times. Whatever the case, what is significant is that Jesus is recognized in the miracle, and in serving them. He does not tell them he will make them fishers of men as he did previously, but this time he tells him “Feed my sheep”.  As Christ has fed them, literally, he is sending them into a life of serving those whom they “catch”.
For us, it isn’t a numbers game; it isn’t simply about how many fish we get, its about serving those who are attracted to Christ. How will they recognize the risen Christ who has already risen and ascended into heaven? They will see Christ risen in our lives of service and communion, of mission and faith.