Worship At Home, The Fourth Sunday of Easter
Welcome to Worship at Home with Corpus Christi Church
The Fourth Sunday of Easter
Whatever your present status in the Catholic Church, whatever your
current family or marital situation, whatever your past or present
religious affiliation, whatever your personal history, age, background,
race or color, sexual orientation, whatever your self-esteem…you are
invited, welcomed, accepted, loved and respected by the
Catholic Community of Corpus Christi.
Let us know your needs, your hopes, your gifts.
There is a place for you here.
Fresh As the Morning
Let us begin, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Now, here in this place,
we praise you for your relentless pursuit to bring us abundance of life.
Come now and grace us with the quiet needed
to place us in silence with you,
so we can hear your voice clearly, without distractions,
without the noise that can lead us far from you.
Be our hope and break through to all of us who feel lost, and long for new life.
We ask this through Christ Jesus, our Lord.
The First Reading
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“Let the whole house of Israel know for certain
that God has made both Lord and Christ,
this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart,
and they asked Peter and the other apostles,
“What are we to do, my brothers?”
Peter said to them,
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is made to you and to your children
and to all those far off,
whomever the Lord our God will call.”
He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them,
“Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Those who accepted his message were baptized,
and about three thousand persons were added that day.
The word of the Lord
Thanks Be To God
Shepherd Me O God:
The Second Reading
A reading from the first Letter of Saint Peter
If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good,
this is a grace before God.
For to this you have been called,
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.
He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.
When he was insulted, he returned no insult;
when he suffered, he did not threaten;
instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly.
He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross,
so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness.
By his wounds you have been healed.
For you had gone astray like sheep,
but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
The word of the Lord
Thanks Be To God
Fr. Patrick Kennedy:
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Saint John
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.
So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ
Fr. Patrick Kennedy:
Thankfully, most of us don’t have a flock of sheep in our back yards. Even one or two would be a challenge especially for us and our neighbors on either side. Because most of us do not have firsthand knowledge of sheep, it might seem then, we would have a hard time understanding Jesus today, when he talks about the relationship a shepherd has with his sheep and vice versa.
One time, I was in a small village in Germany. Some friends and I were having a mid-morning coffee and German pastry in a small cafe right in the heart of town. The table we sat at was outside, as close to the curb as you could get. As we were chatting away and enjoying the ambience of our idyllic setting, there was suddenly a lot of commotion. Like everybody else we looked to see what was going on. Coming down the main road of the village, was a man carrying a large wood staff in his hand. Behind him, following along, were 50 some sheep all walking placidly down the middle of the street behind the man. People stopped. They stood on each side of the road and like us, they were surprised at sight unfolding in front of them.
As the sheep passed, they never stopped, and they look straight forward. Some young kids tried to coax them to look their way, they reached out their hands and tried to pet the sheep and some tossed them a little bite from something they were enjoying in the sidewalk cafes. The sheep could not be tempted to do anything but keep their eyes fixed on the shepherd and follow him. It was quite a remarkable site.
But now, let us go to our own back yards. Many people have dogs. And everybody who does, knows how loyal a dog is to his or her master. And which one of us hasn’t had the experience of noticing a dog in the car in store parking lot? And sometimes, on a nice day, the window may be down a bit. The dog looks friendly, so we start talking to it. Yet, the dog keeps his eyes fixed on the door of the store. Nothing, including our encouragement to look at us, seems to distract the dog. Then, all of a sudden, the dog becomes quite animated. Starts barking, tail wagging and carrying on. We look up. The dog has caught site of the master and realizes the master is returning.
Jesus says he is the good shepherd. His sheep know him, and he knows them. Through our experiences of the pets we have and maybe added to it the drama of witnessing a real-life shepherd with his sheep in a small German village, we can grasp what Jesus was saying. The bond between shepherd and sheep is so tight it cannot be broken. Nothing can distract the sheep when the shepherd is present. No danger or threat the sheep may sense, will prevail because the shepherd is with his sheep and they know instinctively they are safe when he is present.
There is always good news in the Scripture passages we hear proclaimed for us in our Sunday liturgies. This good news is meant to reassure us. Sometimes it is meant to challenge us. It is meant to deepen our thinking about our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. But the purpose of the good news we hear each week is meant help us when we need it the most.
During these extraordinary days, hopefully this good news does its stuff. It provides us with encouragement and strength. It draws us closer to Jesus, who among other things is the Good shepherd and because he is, he hopes we will feel his presence deeply. When we do, we, like the sheep, know instinctively the care he provides and that we don’t have to be afraid because here, in our midst, he is present to us.
This understanding, which we know to be true, is why the words of the Psalmist, resonate as much for as today, as it did generations ago, when he says, “The lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want”. He guides me in the right path for his name’s sake. Even though I walk in a dark valley I fear no evil for you are at my side. Only goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of Lord for years to come.”
This Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Easter, often referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday. Jesus uses several features from sheep herding to characterize the relationship between himself and his followers. He identifies himself as the shepherd and shares the differences of the way he guides, guards, and nurtures the sheep. His audience would recognize the familiar purpose of the everyday shepherd and the sheep. Sheep wander on the hillside and forage for food while the shepherd keeps an eye out for danger. Recognizing the voice of their shepherd, the sheep would follow his lead into the safety of the fenced enclosure for the evening. When Jesus described himself as the gate of the sheepfold, they would understand that for the shepherd to become the gate to the herd at night was to risk his life for not only his sheep but all the sheep in the herd overnight. Thieves would come in the night and steal away what they could. It took courage and commitment to be the gate. This idea of leadership takes a particular focus today when we are searching for leaders. Who do we follow, where do we turn? Authentic leadership is rooted in genuine authority which cherishes, guards, and encourages the best in life; it provides rest and refreshment; it guides our steps; it nourishes us; it leads us to God. Jesus says, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
In our world today there are a multitude of voices clamoring for our attention and we are currently sheltered in place with more noise than we know how to process. How can we hear the sound of the Shepherd’s voice? He is constant, the solution is not that Jesus needs to yell more loudly, it is at crucial moments like this that we have to make decisions to shut the other noises down. We need to take a break from media in all forms, news reports, advertising, all things political, and toxic relationships. We need to come back to the source and be fed abundantly and rest secure. For better or worse we eventually begin to speak with the voice that has formed and shaped our lives. Who do we sound like when we speak? Is it a voice of wisdom, mercy, love, inclusion, compassion, life, beauty, generosity, hope, or joy? If not, which voices do we cling to? Which voices are draining our lives, and which are helping us live life more abundantly? We need to retune our ears to the sound of Jesus’ voice as our Shepherd so that even if it is faintly heard amidst the daily noise, we can lift our heads and walk towards it. Once we are grounded again, we can help others and share the voice of the Shepherd. Have you had someone say or do just the right thing and nourish your soul? Have you ever had someone guide you in your life? Has someone set a table for you and welcomed you? Have you ever walked through the valley of the shadow of death with someone? Were they good shepherds to you? The Shepherd is always leading us to abundance. The Shepherd will lead to green pastures, to still waters, to the table that is set and the cup that is overflowing. Could we do those things? Could we be a shepherd? This is not suggesting that Jesus is not The Shepherd, but rather expanding, enlarging and extending his presence in this idea that perhaps we can be the shepherd to one another from time to time. If we are to follow Jesus our Shepherd, we are also called to be his hands and feet while we are on this Earth. Jesus revives, he leads, he protects, he feeds, he waters, and he is a companion. Maybe part of the Shepherd is anyone or anything that nourishes, fosters, empowers, and guards living a life of abundance. Shepherding is not only an occupation but also a relationship. Right now, we need to listen to each other and acknowledge the loss and fear of this pandemic. The Shepherd sets a table of welcome and hospitality in the difficult places of life. We need to show up and share words of hope and love that we will get through this together. It is not as if abundance wasn’t already there. It’s always been here, right before us. Sometimes we just need someone to help us find it, to point it out, to show us that it is already here, and to remind us of what really matters most
Profession of Faith
I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
Prayers of the Faithful
Christ is risen and still present among us.
In a world where power speaks with a loud voice, we pray with tenderness for all whose lives are endangered.
For the Church:
May we help where we can to accompany all who walk with us on this journey, helping to end apathy, fear, oppression, and disrespect for others…
We pray to the Lord,
For our world:
May the leaders of nations be good shepherds caring for the welfare of God’s creation and the flock entrusted to them…
We pray to the Lord,
For those who are overcome with fear, anxiety, or loneliness through isolation:
May we find ways to bring them comfort…
We pray to the Lord,
For your spirit of love and self-discipline:
may we come together, working to control and eliminate the coronavirus:
for the sick, the vulnerable, the dying, and those who mourn…
We pray to the Lord,
For those who have died, especially Ag Selner…
for all our sisters and brothers spread throughout the world…
May they delight in the new life that awaits us all, promised to us by the risen Jesus…
We pray to the Lord,
God who leads, protects, and beckons us,
we pray for open ears to hear your voice in new and different ways.
Help us to resist arrogance and the temptation to reject vulnerability.
Show us how to be open to the call of Jesus, the Shepherd, who comes to give us abundant life.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord.
When the concerns of this world are too much to bear, you hold us close and lead us to greener pastures of hope. We look to you to be our strength this day. We give you thanks and praise.
Keep us close to you. May we never be separated from you and always be ready to give glory to you and help unify all people wherever they may be.
As we remember that you are the source of joy, we pray in the words Jesus taught us.
who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done.
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours now and forever.
Canticle of the Sun:
Also of interest: A video version of music ministers from Corpus Christi singing Shelter Me by Fr. Michael Joncas, published on YouTube:
COMPOSER’S NOTE These are difficult times for all of us, individually and globally. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life as normal and called for acts of corporate and individual heroism in the face of present suffering and an uncertain future. People of faith may be struggling to articulate their belief in an all-good and all-powerful God in this new era. “Shelter Me” — is my attempt as a church composer to find God’s presence even in these fraught times. Based on the beloved Psalm 23, my paraphrase adapts the psalmist’s sentiments to respond to our present anxieties.