THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Second Sunday after Easter
26 April 2020
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Jesus draws a comparison between Himself and the leaders of the Jews. Jesus says of Himself, that He is the Good Shepherd and He lays down His life for the flock. By implication, we see that the leaders of the Jews are hirelings that do not concern themselves with the flock at all. The false shepherds are not concerned with what they can do for the flock, but rather what the flock can do for them. When the flock becomes a danger to them, they quickly abandon the flock and find shelter for themselves.
Jesus and the shepherds of the Church who are one with Him continually watch over us. We are daily given food for our souls. We are led to green pastures and streams of flowing waters. All the needs of our souls are given freely to us.
All things work for the good of those who love God. This life with its passing pleasures and crosses, joys and sorrows, are all given to us by God. They are food for our souls if we will only receive them well. The bitter crosses in our lives are for our souls like the green grass is for the sheep. These are given to us for our good. The Shepherd carries a crook to correct and turn around the sheep that are going astray. That correction often takes the appearance of some physical difficulty in our lives.
The cross or difficulties in our lives are not signs that God has forgotten us or abandoned us. On the contrary, we should view the hardships in this life as healing remedies for our sins that are prescribed by the Divine Physician and administered to us by a truly loving Father. We should be thankful for the many impediments that get in the way of sinful or worldly pursuits that may lead us spiritually astray.
The Good Shepherd not only administers the bitter herbal medicines for our souls, but He also showers us with many pleasant things. Our lives here on earth are frequently overflowing with joys and pleasures that show us how good God is. The sun, moon, and stars; the plants and animals; the days and seasons are all signs of God's loving concern for us. It is shocking how few of us recognize these good gifts from God. They are so common and frequent that we often take them for granted. We fail to fully appreciate them and enjoy them as we should, but what is even worse is that we fail to thank the Creator for giving them to us.
Our Holy Mother the Church is one with the Good Shepherd, and in His Name, She offers her life for the flock. She administers corrections and penances for the good of our souls. The medicine is often bitter or painful, but it is lovingly administered for the benefit of our souls. As a loving Mother, the Church often mixes with the correction or medicine a bit of sweetness to entice us to accept our crosses. She reminds us of the Resurrection as we fumble and struggle through the penitential season of Lent.
She rebukes, admonishes, or entices us with rewards to get us through the necessary corrective penance that we must embrace. The Church with Jesus as her head demands that we confess our sins at least once a year, but She also strives to make this as easy for us as She can. The humiliation and shame of confessing our sins are mitigated by the law of secrecy attached to the sacrament. The penances are mild in comparison with what we truly deserve.
The Good Shepherd, the Church, and His worthy clergy, also hold out to us the reward of receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, so that we may taste and see how sweet the yoke of the Lord is. It is truly to our shame that the Church must command with a law for us to confess our sins at least once a year, but it is even more shameful that She must demand that we receive Holy Communion during the Easter Season.
The Good Shepherd is watching over us and caring for us through the Church and His true priests. We need only open the eyes of our souls to see this. That which is disagreeable to our natures is medicine for our souls and we should be grateful to God for them. That which is pleasant and sweet is an enticement for us to be grateful and increase our love and desire for the eternal pastures in Heaven.
All things, truly, work for the good of those who love God. Let us pray that the grain of love in our hearts may increase from day to day as we begin to recognize the loving hand of the Good Shepherd, in all things, guiding us through this wilderness and into the eternal pastures of Heaven.
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