4th Sunday of Easter - April 29, 2012

Today our Lord Jesus says to us, “I am the good shepherd.  A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…  I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.”  Jesus Christ is not only the Lamb of Sacrifice who takes away our sins… He is not only the Lamb who was pierced, whose blood reconciles us to the Father… mysteriously our Lord Jesus is also the shepherd who desires to protect us, His little lambs in a world where wolves are on the prowl.

Probably like no other time in history, family life and Christianity itself is under attack.  So many denominations who call themselves Christians are full of confusion as they begin to cave in to the pressures of worldly falsehoods, calling good evil, and various evils they call good.  Many deceived denominations now support sinful lifestyles such as homosexuality and same-sex marriage.  If someone calls homosexual acts sinful, they are denounced, even though the Word of God is very clear on the matter.  The wolves of falsehood are on the loose.

So too, families are under attack in so many ways.  Parents who want to have more children are looked down upon and mocked.  Marriage is ridiculed on TV.  In fact marriages all over are failing at a record rate.  A peaceful life at home is being invaded with all sorts of materialistic expectations and peer pressures and families are having a harder time just keeping up with each new commitment, running here and there.  Not to mention the fears parents have for their children as they grow up in a world of bullying, of destructive drugs,… a world full of temptation and unbelief.

So to be a faithful Catholic Christian family in today’s world is definitely a heroic adventure.  It really is in a way already a type of martyrdom if the Gospel of Jesus Christ is lived out as the center of the family.  For those trying their best, it can seem like they are losing ground and that the evils of this world are going to win out.

But Jesus Christ our King and our good shepherd says, “No… I have overcome the world.”  No matter how crazy society gets, no matter how tyrannical governments become, we the flock of Jesus Christ do not need to live in fear.  If we seek to keep Him in the center of our families and our homes, He will bring us into the victory He has already won.

Jesus Christ is the good shepherd and now is the time of Divine Mercy.  Before He comes as just Judge to condemn and crush all the evils of this world, Jesus Christ is coming as King of Mercy to gather to Himself all his little lambs who know Him.  He comes with great earnestness.  His sleeves are rolled up, sweat pours forth from His brow so to speak as He climbs into the rocky heights of our deserted, thirsty lives.  He climbs through the briars of our sin and fears, even as He is wounded by those thorns, Jesus presses on and sees your soul like a little shivering lamb stranded on some rocky ledge, hungry, thirsty and alone at times.  You may not notice Him at first, for you may too busy fearing the bloodshot eyes and fangs of vicious snarling wolves that have you surrounded.

But Jesus is the good shepherd and He has conquered those wolves.  At the sight of His Risen Presence they will yelp away with their tails between their legs.  Jesus comes and if you trust Him, He will embrace you close to His Merciful Heart to warm yours, and then lift you on His shoulders as He carries you back to the green pastures of the Father’s Love.  As He carries you on His shoulders, tenderly He will whisper the Truth to you that will drive away your fear… the Truth that you are not alone, you are not abandoned, the world will not win.

And most importantly of all, He will whisper and tell you who you really are; “You are a child of the light.  With Me and in Me, you are a child of God your Father and no one can snatch you from my hand.  In the world you will have trouble, but fear not, I have overcome the world.  I walk with you.  Walk with me as a child of the light and do not fear the darkness.”

It is really the same as we heard in our 2nd reading; “Beloved:  See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.  Yet so we are.  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God's children now…”

So all you who take your Faith in Christ sincerely, all you who are seeking to grow and live your Catholic Faith, and especially you families that are trying to keep Jesus Christ as the center of your home, do not be afraid of the world but shine your light all the more.  Do not be afraid to live who you are called to be.  Do not allow the false values of this world to drive you or to intimidate you into choices you wish you didn’t have to make.  Instead, in Christ our Good Shepherd and King, stand strong as burning flames against the night.  Live as children of the light and know that in Christ there is already a victory for He is risen indeed.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, teach us, guide us, and lead us to your Son Jesus that we may follow Him to the Father’s embrace as children of the light, walking in joy and trust.