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4th Sunday of Easter: Join Bishop Strickland and Deacon Keith for Sunday's Live Mass - 5.3.20
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Bishop Strickland during Sunday's mass.
Dear Catholic Online Community and Catholic Online School students...
I AM HAPPY TO OFFER EACH OF YOU ANOTHER INVITATION
This Sunday is the fourth Sunday of the Easter Season. I will be serving as the Deacon at the Holy Mass offered by Bishop Joseph Strickland. It will be offered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler, Texas. We are beginning to emerge from Stay at Home Orders and the major readjustments caused by the COVID 19 Virus.
But, for those with living faith, like you and me, we know Jesus Christ, the Risen Savior is Lord. He is with us. We will come through this.
And, hopefully, this protracted time of prayer and reflection is already helping us to understand the things that matter most. Things like living, genuine faith, loving and serving the Lord, loving our families - and loving one another. And, proclaiming the love of Jesus Christ to a world waiting to be born anew.
In our first reading, we will hear excerpts from the second chapter of Acts, the Book which tells us of the spread of the faith due to the message of the Apostles and the dynamic way of life of the early Church.
When read in its full context, we discover that the Apostle Peter was fearlessly preaching the full gospel immediately after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Gone was the frightened follower of Jesus who denied the Lord three times.
Reinstated by the Risen Lord Jesus and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit which Jesus had promised, Peters powerful words "cut to the heart". Three thousand people encountered the Lord and entered the Church. Now that is inspired preaching!
That same Risen Jesus is with us today. He did not leave us after His Ascension. Rather, He sent the Holy Spirit to empower us! We are now His Mystical Body, the Church. He speaks and ministers through us! Though we each have different assignments in the ongoing mission of the Church, every one of us has access as well to the same Holy Spirit which empowered Peter and the early believers. Do we believe this?
In our second reading, The First Letter written by the Apostle Peter, the first Pope, to the early Church. We will be reminded of what Jesus has done for us. We will be urged to return to the Shepherd and guardian of our souls, Jesus Christ.
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This portion of the Letter follows at the end of the second chapter. In the first part of the second chapter, St. Peter reminds the early believers, and, he reminds each one of us, that we are "living stones" built into a spiritual house. We are now called live true freedom, by willingly becoming servants of the Lord, disciples of Jesus Christ. Do we understand the implications of this in our own lives? Do we see ourselves, first and last, as servants of the Lord on His mission?
In the portion of the Gospel of St John appointed for this Holy Mass, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Jesus tells the crowd that He Himself is the Good Shepherd. He himself is the gate, through which all men and women can enter a relationship with the Father.
He tells us that He will lay down His life for His sheep. And, He did. This image of the Good Shepherd had Messianic meaning to the Jews who are listening. For example, in the 34th chapter of the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, after prophesying against the false shepherds, the false leaders of Gods people, the Lord, speaking through the Prophet, tells the people that He is the Good Shepherd. Further, that He would come to rescue them. Here are just two verses: "Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep."
We are also the sheep the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd has come to gather. We entered the sheepfold through the waters of Baptism. Are we listening for His Voice?
Let us continue to pray that the Lord, in His Mercy, will continue to reach out from heaven to heal those afflicted with the COVID-19 virus - and intervene by the Power of the Holy Spirit - to bring an end to its devastation.
Let us pray for the Church - and for all of her clergy and faithful - that she would be a witness to the Power of Living Faith in Jesus Christ and share the Good News of Jesus Christ to a world steeped in fear and darkness.
Let us pray for those in Civil leadership, that the Lord would give them the wisdom they need to make right decisions for the health, safety and welfare of people in every Nation.
Let us pray for those in the scientific and medical community, that they would be inspired by the Lord to find a cure for this virus.
Let us pray for one another.
And finally, let us believe the words and he promise of Jesus Christ. Even during this current crisis, He is at work, healing, delivering and setting people free from death.
The Father hears our prayers as we turn to Him, in the name of His Son and Our Savior. He sends forth the Holy Spirit to heal, inspire and give us hope in this time of despair. The Lord will intervene to help us.
May the Lord bless you, your families, the Church and the Nations of the world
Deacon Keith Fournier
Dean of Catholic Online School
Chaplain of Your Catholic Voice Foundation
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