“I” Witness: Wk 4: Who Are You Listening To?
Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday, : “I” Witness: Wk 4: Who Are You Listening to?
Today is the Fourth Sunday of Easter which is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday. Today is also a very special day for our youth who will be making their First Holy Communion. Such occasions are a reminder to us all of our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist that we may be renewed in our love and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament in which Jesus is present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
What a beautiful day for our youth to make their first holy communion, on Good Shepherd Sunday. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, he laid down his life for his sheep and now has risen. He continues to watch over his sheep and guide them, leading them always on that path that will lead them to their home to heaven.
Jesus reminds us that the sheep hear his voice. It is the voice of Christ and his alone that guides us through the turmoil of this world to the shores of eternity. We must recognize his voice so that we may follow him alone and not be deceived.
How does Christ speak to us? He speaks to us through scripture, through his vicar, the Pope, through the teachings of His Church. Christ wants us to listen to his voice that we may not be deceived by the voice of “strangers”, false shepherds, and thieves. He is speaking of the “influencers” of our time that contradict Christ, his gospel message and the teachings of his Church.
We must be very clear. The teachings of the Church are the teachings of Christ, guided by the light of the Holy Spirit. There is no teaching in the Church that is “man-made” it is rather the Holy Spirit giving clarity and light into the truth that we may be guided on safe paths to eternal life and not be deceived. It is not always popular to follow Christ and his teaching. But Jesus was not popular either in that He was put to death for his teaching.
We must not allow ourselves to be deceived or influenced by any voices that contradict Jesus Christ. These voices can come to us from all directions from the internet, television, radio, music, movies, magazines, books, politics. They appear as modern, cool or hip yet they contradict the teaching of Christ which causes great harm to soul that are misled and influenced by a “Spirit” that is not “Holy” but unholy- that which rebels and contradicts Christ and his teaching. These voices can even sometimes come from friends, work colleagues or family members. Christ is warning us that these voices steal, slaughter and destroy us as they try to lead us away from him.
Jesus tell us we must “run away’ from these voices and that it is his voice alone that we are to follow. That he alone is the “Gate” by which we will be saved and enter eternal life.
Throughout history the voice of Christ has not always been popular and this is especially true in our own times when sin is glorified and the gospel and teachings of Christ are mocked, ridiculed and even labeled as evil doctrine. These individuals are not following the voice of Christ but the voice that seeks to contradict Christ and lead the sheep always from eternal salvation. Jesus says very clearly whoever enters through me will be saved. His voice alone is the voice that leads to eternal life. There are those who say it doesn’t matter what voice I follow or what I do. Jesus gives us clarity and truth by teaching us that his voice alone is the voice we are to listen to and follow for his voice alone guides us to heaven.
Jesus and Jesus alone laid down his life for me so that I could have eternal life. He suffered for me and died on the Cross to wipe out my sins. If there were no such thing as sin Jesus would not have had to go to such great lengths in his suffering and death to redeem me and save my soul. But it is because of sin and the offense it causes to God that Jesus suffered and died for us.
It is not always popular to follow Christ. But “I” and we shouldn’t seek popularity. I want to follow Jesus and Him alone. If it means that even if the rest of the world turns against me, so be it. I will not be ashamed or afraid to follow Christ and to go against the world because Jesus was not ashamed of me when he died for me on the Cross. I will not apologize for following Christ and defending his teaching because he alone is the path to eternal life and salvation and nothing in this world is worth loosing heaven.
Though I may be weak and stumble often. He alone is my shepherd. His voice alone will I follow. And when I do stubble and fall this good shepherd heals me through the sacrament of Confession.
And he feeds me with heavenly food, the bread of Angels, he gives me himself in the Holy Eucharist.
Dear Children remember that Jesus loves you and that he is your shepherd. You have been preparing for this day for a long time. But you should know that Jesus has been waiting for this day for all eternity. He has been waiting to give himself to you that you may have that intimate union with him through the Holy Eucharist.
This is not a symbol of Jesus or a pretend Jesus. It is Really Jesus! It is God! Jesus is present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. It is the closest we come to heaven on earth. This is our faith and the unchanging teaching of the Church for over 2,000 years. The Eucharist is Jesus!
Our shepherd Jesus gives us this heavenly food. The last Eucharist we receive on earth is called Holy Viaticum. This Means food for the Journey. We are on a journey to our true home in heaven and Jesus gives us himself to be our food, our strength, our consolation, our friend and Lord.
Thank Jesus for this gift. After you receive him and go back to your seat it is the time to talk to Jesus, thank him, tell him you love him. Ask him to help you to stay close to him and to love him. It is an intimate moment after Holy Communion to rest in the presence of Christ and be filled by his Divine Life. It is one of the most important moments for our prayers to be heard as Jesus it truly in us through his Eucharistic presence. It is a time also to thank him. To ask for an increase in his divine light and love in our life and that we may always correspond with it.
May every communion throughout your life be filled with the love, joy and peace of receiving Jesus as if it was the first time. Through the Eucharist we become closer to Jesus and hopefully more and more like him as he transforms us through each holy communion.
It is for this reason the Church encourages us to frequent Holy Communion. Not only can we receive Jesus in Holy Communion on Sunday but we can receive Holy Communion every day of the week, we can even receive him twice in the same day, stressing how important Holy Communion is for us to stay united to Christ and to receive the divine assistance to more easy reject sin and the temptations which assail us from a world which often rejects Christ and His teaching. The Holy Eucharist is the remedy to keep us faithful as it provides us supernatural grace, courage and strength to follow Jesus and remain faithful to Him.
Today may we all be renewed in our commitment to following Jesus Christ. He alone is our Good Shepherd. May we always follow his voice and stay close to him especially in the Holy Eucharist.
St. Mother of Theresa of Calcutta would ask the Blessed Virgin Mary for her immaculate heart when receiving Jesus in Holy Communion that she would receive Jesus with the same love, purity, joy and reverence of Mary’s Immaculate Heart.
Lord though I am weak and frail, it is your voice that I seek to listen to and follow. Be to me a Good Shepherd, protect me from all harm and danger. Assist me that I may truly follow your voice alone as I seek to become more perfectly conformed to you and to your teaching. Good Shepherd, lead me safely on that path to my true homeland and help me to be courageous in giving witness to you as I strive to follow you each day until you take me home to be with you forever in heaven. Amen.