Wednesday, April 29, 2020

HOMILY – Fourth Sunday of Easter – The Shepherd’s Voice

Today Jesus is talking about the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd exists to protect the flock from wolves. Even the wolves inside of us.
Jesus identifies himself as the “Sheep Gate” for the flock. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus calls His sheep by name, and we follow Him.  
The flock is the Church and is defined most importantly by our relationship with him. In other words, Church is not primarily a social gathering. We are a community called by name by Jesus to gather in his name and do his will.  
The doors of the Church are the “Sheep Gate.” This is where we enter into communion with Jesus and with each other by acting in a way that shows our love for him and for each other.  
In his reflection on this passage, Seattle Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg said this“We may not like some of the people Jesus has called into the flock, but the same mercy of God that calls us also calls them. It’s not up to us as the flock to decide whom the Lord calls. It is the responsibility of the flock to welcome and accept all whom the Good Shepherd places in our midst. 
Each week we come to worship, we come to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and “receive His protection and guidance, be nourished, and receive strength for the Christian journey.  
Sometimes we only come to church because we like the music or some way of doing things, or the people. These are acceptable motivations, but if they were taken away tomorrow by the wolf, would we still be members of Christ’s Church? 
Only the love of the Good Shepherd and the personal connection to Him will keep us faithful despite the challenges we face. 
This is a good question to ponder now as world events are preventing us from celebrating together. We are redefining what it means to be Church through Facebook Live Masses and Zoom meet ups. 
I’d like to share an important story from our First Nation sisters and brothers. It illuminates how Christ calls us to behave with each other as we together build up the Kingdom.  
You may see yourself in the reflection. It’s OK.  I see myself, too. 
An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. 
One is Evil.  It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego.  The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.” 
The boy thought about it and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?” 
The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”   
How are you feeding the wolf inside of you? This is a great question to ponder in the coming week as you strengthen your relationship with Jesus.  
I’d like to share a contemporary tale about the power of feeding the Good Wolf.  
A woman pulls her car into the drive-thru line at Starbucks, and wonders why it was dozens of cars deep.
It wasn’t raining, yet it seemed everyone was driving through today.
It was as she entered the line that she saw the woman.

She was getting into line, too, and was leaving just enough room to not collide with the first woman’s car.
So, the first woman smiled, and gestured to her. “Are you next, or am I?”
The second woman became furious.
Thinking the first woman was trying to snag her spot to be next in line, she gunned her Suburban, rolled down the window, and let out a string of expletives that would make anyone blush.
“Go ahead, please,” the first woman said.  She really wasn’t sure who was first.
The second woman wasn’t buying it. She continued with the name calling without taking a breath.
Then something really strange happened.
Instead of getting mad or yelling back at the other woman, a sense of empathy overtook the first woman. 
She looked at the angry woman again, and this time saw someone different, someone who wrenched her heart.
Her eyes were red and puffy. Her hair was pulled back in a natty ponytail.  She held her phone in her palm, glancing down at it every few seconds.
And she was driving that big ole’ Suburban, the first woman’s own car of choice when she had three kids at home and a carpool every school day.
Dear God!  The first woman realized she was looking at herself ten years ago. Same car, same ponytail, same frustration.
We’ve all been there. Dog vomits on the sofa. Both kids have strep throat. The garbage disposal chooses today to break, when you’re trying to get rid of moldy leftovers from the fridge. Your spouse is mad because you promised, but forgot to pick up the dry cleaning and he’s going on a business trip. Sound familiar?
The second woman gunned forward, just to show the first woman that she was first.
The first woman left her a wide berth, smiled at the other woman’s splotchy face.  The second woman shot her a sideways scowl, mouthed the mantra again.
Pulling up to the loudspeaker, the first woman said “I want to pay for whatever the woman in front of me has ordered. And please tell her I hope she has a better day.” And she meant every word. 

The woman idled in front of her for a good four minutes, talking to the barista who had leaned out the window.  The woman shook her head and handed over a bill. She drove around the side of the building slowly, this time no gunning.
“She wouldn’t let me buy?” the first woman said to the barista as she pulled forward.
“Nope. She said she couldn’t believe you wanted to pay for her drink after all the names she called you.  She said she couldn’t allow it, and said to tell you she was sorry.  She felt really bad.”
“Did you tell her I hoped she had a better day?”
“Yep. She said thanks— that it already was.”
As the first woman drove away, she began to cry. Not because she’d been called so many terrible names, or from the stress of the encounter, but because God had answered her very recent prayer—which was that He would allow her to see people as He sees them, not as we see them.  That she might be able to see the hurting inside, instead of just the hurtful outside.
            My sisters and brothers, we are all broken inside whether we like to admit it or not. Jesus sees through our hurt and brokenness and is the Good Shepherd calling us all to be better people. Jesus wants us to see the world and all its people the way He sees it. 
          Jesus encourages us to feed the Good Wolf and starve the Evil Wolf. 
  Our response after spending time with Jesus should never be one of ingratitude or showing a lack of charity and intolerance toward others, complaining, grumbling, being prideful, egotistical, or showing presumption in situations we do not understand. This is the Evil Wolf speaking.   
Jesus encourages us to always feed the Good Wolf.  And hear his voice. 
Remember, we are called to be a people of Hope, we are called to be a people of Joy, we are called to be a people of Peace.  As such we should always show gratitude to God and to others for the presence of the Good Shepherd in lives. 
Hoy Jesús habla del Buen Pastor. El Buen Pastor existe para  proteger al rebaño de los lobos.
Jesús se identifica a sí mismo como la "Puerta de las Ovejas" para el rebaño. Como Buen Pastor, Jesús llama a sus ovejas por su nombre, y nosotros lo seguimos.
El rebaño es la Iglesia y se define principalmente por nuestra relación con él. En otras palabras, la Iglesia no es ante todo una reunión social. Somos una comunidad llamada en el nombre de Jesús, para reunirnos en su nombre y hacer su voluntad.
Las puertas de la Iglesia son la "Puerta de las Ovejas". Aquí es donde entramos en comunión con Jesús y entre nosotros actuando de una manera que demuestre nuestro amor por él y por los demás.
En su reflexión sobre este pasaje, el obispo de Seattle, Daniel Mueggenborg, dijo esto: "Puede que no nos gusten algunas de las personas que Jesús ha llamado a su rebaño, pero la misma misericordia con la que Dios nos llama a nosotros también los llama a ellos. No depende de nosotros como rebaño decidir a quién llama el Señor. Es responsabilidad del rebaño acoger y aceptar a todos los que el Buen Pastor pone entre nosotros".
Cada semana venimos a adorar, venimos a escuchar la voz del Buen Pastor y "recibimos su protección y guía; nos nutrimos y recibimos fortaleza para el camino cristiano".
A veces sólo venimos a la iglesia porque nos gusta la música, la forma en que se hacen algunas cosas, o la gente. Estas son motivaciones aceptables, pero si el lobo se las llevase mañana, ¿seguiríamos siendo miembros de la Iglesia de Cristo?
"Sólo el amor del Buen Pastor y la conexión personal con Él nos mantendrá fieles a pesar de los desafíos que enfrentamos"
Esta es una buena pregunta para meditar ahora, ya que los acontecimientos mundiales nos impiden celebrar juntos. Estamos  redefiniendo lo que significa ser Iglesia a través de Misas reuniéndonos via Facebook en VIVA y Zoom.
Me gustaría compartir una historia importante de nuestras hermanas y hermanos de la Primera Nación.  Esta historia Ilumina la forma en que Cristo nos llama a comportarnos el uno con el otro a medida que juntos edificamos el Reino de Dios. Es posible que te veas a ti mismo en la reflexión. Está bien. Yo también me veo a mí mismo.
Un viejo Cherokee le dijo a su nieto: "Hijo mío, hay una batalla entre dos lobos dentro de todos nosotros.
Un lobo es el mal.  Es la ira, los celos, la codicia, el resentimiento, la inferioridad, las mentiras y el ego.
El otro lobo es bueno. Es la alegría, la paz, el amor, la esperanza, la humildad, la bondad, la empatía y la verdad".
El niño lo pensó y preguntó: "Abuelo, ¿qué lobo gana?"
El anciano respondió en voz baja: "Al que alimentas". 
¿Cómo estás alimentando a los lobos dentro de ti? Esta es una gran pregunta para meditar esta próxima semana a medida que fortalezcan su relación con Jesús.
   Hermanas y hermanos, todos estamos rotos por dentro, nos guste admitirlo o no. Jesús ve a través de nuestro dolor y se resquebraja y es el Buen Pastor llamándonos a todos a ser mejores personas. Jesús quiere que veamos el mundo y a toda su gente de la manera en que lo ve.
Jesús nos alienta a alimentar al lobo bueno y a matar de hambre al lobo malo.
Nuestra respuesta después de pasar tiempo con Jesús nunca debe ser una respuesta de ingratitud o mostrar una falta de caridad e intolerancia hacia los demás, quejándose, refunfuñando, siendo orgullosos, egoístas o mostrando presunción en situaciones que no entendemos. Este sería el lobo malo hablando. 
Jesús nos anima a alimentar siempre al lobo bueno.  Y a escuchar su voz (de Jesus).

Recuerden, estamos llamados a ser un pueblo con esperanza, estamos llamados a ser un pueblo de alegría, estamos llamados a ser un pueblo de paz.  Como tal, siempre debemos mostrar gratitud a Dios y a los demás por la presencia del Buen Pastor en la vida.