Sunday, December 27, 2015

Homily - Feast of the Holy Family - We shouldn't be surprised

Before Mass:
This morning we are privileged to hear the first words Jesus utters in the Gospel.  “Why did you look for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  These words were originally written in Greek – and that last phrase could just as easily be translated as “I must be about my Father’s business”.  It’s just a small tweak of the meaning, but keep that in mind as you listen and try to figure out Why He responded the way he did and more importantly – what He’s trying to tell YOU today.
I’m always struck by how Jesus responds to people in the Gospel.  To OUR ears it sounds dis-respectful.  Like today – ‘why did you look for me?  Did you not know I must be in my Father’s house?’  Sounds a little like he’s too big for his britches, if you ask me!… I would think a sincere apology would be in order.  But who am I to question what JESUS said?  There MUST be a message for us or it wouldn’t have been recorded in scripture.  I have a story which might help us think a little differently about that response. 

Jerry’s 4 year old daughter Susie was out playing in the mud puddles one day and making mud pancakes.  Jerry was babysitting that day, and he KNEW his wife would be sooo upset that he let her play in the mud.  Yeah – she was making a huge mess of her clothes, but she was SOO cute and having so much fun.  Jerry went in to grab a camera to capture the moment… but when he came back, Susie was gone!  Where could she be?  Did she cross the road?  Did she go to the neighbor’s house?  Did she go inside?  He panicked…  running around calling her name – searched the bedroom, the playroom, the TV room, all the neighbor’s houses.  Even the neighbors joined the search.  Giving up, Jerry ran back inside to call the police when he heard some singing coming from the bathroom… bursting through the door, he saw Susie sitting in the bath tub playing with her rubber duckie…  The first thing out of his mouth was THANK GOD… which was quickly followed by words that sounded harsher than he wanted… WHERE did you go?  We were looking all over for you?!!!  And Susie, sensing how upset he was, started to cry as she said, “But – I was all muddy and I knew mommy wouldn’t like it so came to get a bath…I thought you KNEW I had to take a bath”.

I think Susie’s response gives us a clue about Jesus’ response to Mary and Joseph when they found him in the temple:  He  likely was surprised by their reactions.  “Why did you look for me?  Didn’t you know…?”  From HIS perspective, it should have been quite OBVIOUS to them where He would be found.  They shouldn’t have been surprised to find him in Church.
So – what’s the bigger message?  How can we find our own story in these readings?

Here is the question for each person here:  Have YOU ever lost Jesus?  We might have surrounded ourselves with so many people, like the caravan in the Gospel, so maybe we haven't even REALIZED Jesus is missing from our lives.  When troubles hit – When sorrow, pain, and worry envelop us, we suddenly realize we’ve left him behind somewhere.  We might scurry around all over town like Mary and Joseph searching for Jesus...and then, as a last resort, we go the Church.  THIS is where we find the Father's church... with a community of believers.  Yeah, we can find him WHEREVER God's will is being done, but the PRIMARY place to find Jesus is in the Father’s house. 

The second most-likely place to find Jesus is at home in our Families.  Home is where we learn how to live as Christians.  You may remember just a couple of months ago a Synod was held – basically a meeting of Bishops with the Pope – and the topic was the Family.  Here are a couple quotes I pulled from their document:

the family is a “school of love,” a “school of communion,” and a “gymnasium for relationships,” that is, the privileged place to learn to build meaningful relationships which help a person develop a capacity for giving one’s self. ...the family can be considered as the “basic school of humanity,” and thus regarded as irreplaceable.

As with just about any Church document, it’s kinda wordy… but packed with meaning.  What’s all that mean?  The family is where we learn to Love and what it means to be Loved.  It is a place where we learn ‘communion’… how to live together.  That third phrase is interesting.. the family is a ‘gymnasium for relationships’…what do we go to a gym for?  To work out…to practice… to play the game.   The Family is where we practice giving of ourselves..we practice forgiving…we work-out our problems….we practice communication…we exercise our communication skills… we practice being self-less… in essence – we learn how to Love.

The family is also the breeding ground for Vocations.  This is where the first reading connects with the Gospel.  Notice that Hannah dedicated Samuel to God very early in life.  She took him to the temple and left him there to be raised by the priests and temple handmaids.  That seems a bit extreme to our modern culture… We normally don’t decide FOR our kids what they should be when they get older – we let them decide.  However, Families still have a HUGE impact on whether a young person will consider a priestly or religious vocation.

On one hand, I know families who pray together - and I mean teens too - praying the rosary together daily or weekly.  They pray before meals - they go to Mass together - go to Reconciliation.  These people have trained their children to view the Sacraments of the Church as 'normal'… that doesn't match what the rest of society thinks is normal.  These kids are reminded to ask GOD what HE wants them to do with their life.  They are encouraged to seek a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.

On the other hand, I also know folks - one lady in particular is a very close friend and a very strong Catholic - who purposely DISCOURAGED her son from following a calling to the priesthood.  Why?  She wants grandkids.  Really?  This statement actually worries me… if every parent wants grandkids – and few families have more than one son anymore… then we won’t have ANY parents encouraging their sons to consider a vocation.

How CAN we encourage vocations? 
Ø  First - By changing the question we ask our youth.  Instead of ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’, let’s ask, ‘what is God calling YOU to do?’  Start asking the question early in life, so it will become just a normal question they ask themselves.

Ø  Take them to church… I don’t mean to LEAVE them at church, like Hannah did.  I don’t think Fr. Eugene wants a bunch of kids running around the Rectory. Taking the family to church shows the youth how important this is to you. 

Ø  You know, when I was young I used to get frustrated by babies and toddlers who would make noise in church… but somewhere along the line somebody reminded me that noisy babies are a sign that our parish is still growing – rather than just being a church for the old people.

Ø  Another way to encourage vocations is to Show respect for the priest.  Speak kindly about Father in front of the kids.  Do things as a family to thank Father for all he does – like – I can remember we would have our parish priest over for dinner often.  What a great way for us kids to get to know these priests as ‘real people’.   

I realize there are other reasons parents don’t want their kids to be a Priest – but most of us involved in Ministry would agree that it is the most fulfilling way to live.   Father touches SO many lives on a personal level – AND – he has been ordained to feed us the Body and Blood of Jesus.  I personally can’t think of anything I’d rather my son would do.

If we would dedicate our children to God as Hannah did in the first reading... if we would set the example for them… if we guide them to always seek what GOD wants them to do… we shouldn’t be surprised if we find them in church,… doing our Father’s business.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

2015/11/29 First Sunday of Advent - Looking for the Off-Ramp

To set the stage, I need you to think about the signs along an interstate highway like on I-64.  If you get on the highway headed West what will the sign FACING you say?  St. Louis  and obviously, if you head east, the signs facing you would say Louisville.  In other words the signs tell you where youre going, right? 

Many years ago, a group of us were driving to New York to a ski resort.  Yeah I know we could have just gone to Paoli, but well they actually have SNOW in New York.  We left on a Friday right after work and drove until the early hours of the morning.  We got somewhere near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border when we stopped for gas.  It was foggy, because of the snow melting in the area and it was dark and we werent familiar with the area.  So whoever was driving got turned around in the dark and ended up getting on the ramp headed in the wrong direction.  Most of us were half- asleep, so it wasnt until 15 minutes later that somebody looked behind us at a sign on the other side of the highway and noticed the signs said Erie, PA.wait a minutethats where WERE supposed to be headed.  Thats when we noticed the signs on our side said Cleveland, OH’ and Syracuse, NY.

Not much you can do when theres no off-ramps we had to keep driving as fast as we could in the wrong direction to find a way to get back on track.  For 22 miles, we drove the wrong way wishing to find an off-ramp.

All of us at times find ourselves headed in the wrong direction, dont we?. Imagine our lives as a highway.  One way leads to heaven and the other way leads to well.the other place. 

When were young, we rode with our parents and grandparents on this road to heaven.  They showed us how to live.  They showed us how to read the signs.  They were responsible for keeping us pointed in the right direction.  Then we got our own drivers license kinda like Confirmation we got to drive ourselves which means WE get to choose which direction we want to travel.  Often we might see the off-ramps and take an excursion to see what else is out there and completely lose sight of the highway to heaven.  Id venture to say this probably describes many of us here we got the right upbringing, but when it came to making our religion our own, many of us took the off-ramp, and headed in the wrong direction.  Many never returned.  Many of us keep driving in that wrong direction thinking someday were going to have to get turned aroundsomeday well get our lives back on track. 

Problem is - whenever we get pointed in the wrong direction, its hard to get turned around.  Often something in our lives seems to force us to push on and on.  Every day just brings us more of the same work, kids, responsibilities they keep us too busy to even THINK about making any changes to our lives.  We cant find an off-ramp.  Thats what Advent is for us: an off-ramp.  The Church in her wisdom gives us a brand-new start like a chance to re-boot and start over.  These four weeks are an invitation to get off the rat-race; to look at where we are, where weve been, and most importantly where we are headed.  If we would just stop and READ THE SIGNS, we can SEE where our lives are leading.  The signs along the highway TELL us.  If we dont like where were going, perhaps its time to turn around.

See Jesus talks about there will be signs these are signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God.  These signs are all around us even now seriously... God puts signs all around us to guide us back to the highway to heaven thing is theyre all facing away from heaven just like the signs for Louisville only point West. so unless we turn to look TOWARD heaven, we wont be able to read the signs.

Normally in Advent, one of the first words we hear is Repent.  Im going to impress you with my vast knowledge of the Greek language ok maybe the only word I know in Greek:  Metanoia.  Thats the word in the New Testament which is translated as repent.

Metanoia is more than we typically think of when we think of Repent.  It is a COMPLETE CHANGE OF MIND.  You might say it is to turn completely around to go the other direction.

This is what were called to do in Advent.  Pull off the road look at the map look at where weve been and where we are headed. And when we realize just how far off course we are, we can metanoia turn around and get back on the highway to heaven.

How can we keep ourselves going in the right direction?  This is where Psalm 25 comes in:   Your ways, O LORD, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me.

God has given us the directions he even came down here and died on the cross to point us in the right direction.  Pray this psalm often in every situation God show me which way to go.  God teach me what I need to know.  Keep me pointed in the right direction.  Open my eyes to read all the signs you place around me.even the ones behind me.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

2015/11/01 - All Saints

Before Mass:
Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints.  You know, in the Apostle's creed, we profess that we believe in the Communion of Saints… what is the communion of Saints?  We get a vision of that today in our first reading.  On one hand, given the events of this past week - losing a good friend and pillar of this Parish, most of us are probably not much in the mood to celebrate anything… but I think it’s providential that God gave us this feast TODAY… because it is one of those “catholic” things that give us hope specifically in these times of grief. 
So, as we listen to the readings, be thinking of the Communion of Saints.  There’s a question in the first reading I want us to all ask ourselves:  “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”  Pay close attention to what these people are doing – where they are- and how that question is answered.

Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Well that answer really clears it up…NOT!  What in the world is the ‘time of great distress’? ...and how the heck do you make robes WHITE in the Blood of the lamb?  Sounds like mumbo-jumbo to me.
It’s always a bit presumptuous to interpret the book of Revelation.  It has so many possible meanings – and in a way – all of them can be true at once. For example, when this was written, it was common for Christians to be persecuted.  Come to think of it – that was much like all the Christians being persecuted TODAY in the Middle East.  It wasn’t like Dubois County where most everybody is Christian…  WE Christians were outcast… shunned by the Jews and distrusted by the Gentiles.  You might lose your job – or your house – or your life, just because you believe that Jesus rose from the dead.  So you could say THAT’S what the ‘time of great distress’ was talking about.  It was a letter written specifically to bolster the courage of those who were and still are undergoing persecution.  These people are the martyrs… and by spilling their blood for the Faith, we believe they earned the quick-ticket to heaven.  Jesus said, no greater love has one than to lay down your life for your friends… and that’s what they did.  As their blood was spilled, it proved their own moral purity… signified by the white robes.
Do you have to be a martyr to get to heaven?  I don’t think so… in fact, It gives me great comfort that John says the crowd was so huge that nobody could count them.  Maybe there’s room in that crowd for you and me…and Tim…and my Mom…and all the other people we love who are no longer physically with us!?
See – short of physically giving your life as a martyr, each of us can wash our own robes through how we live.  Every one of us goes through our own time of distress…  like losing a family member – losing a good friend – and eventually losing our own life.  In fact, throughout our lives, we gradually learn to give away our life for the sake of others.  Through prayer, works of mercy, serving others… loving others – we learn to completely empty ourselves of our SELF.  Make sense?  Let me say it another way – every time we give up some of our selfishness – it’s like we are spilling our blood – so to speak.  Every time we do something for others, we become less selfish and more like Christ.  See – what we need is a blood transfusion.  We have to get rid of our own selfish blood - and replace that blood with Jesus’ blood…which is the blood of the lamb.
That’s what we do when we come to Communion.  I know – I’m going way deep – but stick with me… when we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, it’s like getting a transfusion of the blood of Jesus into us… we become more and more like Jesus as his blood replaces ours.
Notice something in that second read – Beloved, we are God’s children now…. What does it mean to be someone’s child?  Either you’re adopted –or – you have a blood relationship with them.  My Mom and Dad’s blood runs through my veins… likewise, by drinking the blood of Jesus, HIS blood runs through my veins.  We are originally ‘adopted’ children of God through baptism… but through Communion, we become blood relatives with Jesus – and therefore, we are blood relatives with all of the saints who have gone before us!!!  Wow!  All those people that John saw in that first reading are our brothers and sisters… the Saints.

Now – standing around the throne giving praise to God may not sound like much of a fun-time to be had in heaven… but have you ever EXPERIENCED what it’s like to BE part of the communion of saints?  What does it feel like to be part of?  Well – I had a sense of it last week when we had a prayer service for Tim Friedman.  We had maybe a couple hundred people showed up… so maybe half the people we have here today.  But wow – when people really pray in unison like they mean it, it’s inspiring.  Have you ever felt that?  I want to give you that experience right now…. A feeling of what it’s like to BE in the communion of Saints.  We are going to sing Holy, Holy, Holy on page xx – and we’ll sing it a capella – which means without any music.  However, I want us all to sing it like we mean it… sing it so Tim Friedman can hear it.  He loved this parish, and he would have loved to see and hear what is about to happen.  PLEASE – lift your voice and sing with all your might.  Picture yourself standing with the multitude; standing right next to Tim before God’s throne… singing along with the communion of Saints.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

2015/09/27 - Cut it Off

Before Mass:  Every three years, we here this Gospel, where Jesus commands that if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.  Better to enter eternal life with one hand than to go into hell with two hands.  Seems very logical  even though it seems a bit extreme  OK  Ill admit  over-the-top extreme.
Now normally, youd expect the preacher to make everybody feel better immediately by saying  well, Jesus didnt really MEAN for us to cut our hands off he was just speaking figuratively  using hyperbole.thats a fancy term for Jesus was just trying to exaggerate to get our attention.
BUT  Im not going to let us all off that easy.  Jesus used these examples for a very real reason.  So as we listen to the readings, think about what Jesus is asking you to cut off.

Imagine this  youre going on the ultimate vacation  youre going to hike and climb BY YOURSELF for a week in the wilderness in Utah.  Its going to be awesome.  You set out cross-country, because there are no trails.  You climb up and down canyons.  Then you come to this one canyon, not really a canyon  more like a crevice its like a 3 foot opening in the rock.  You decide to climb down through that crevice.  You get to the bottom and walking along to see where the crevice leads  and you come to a rock thats about waist high, so youre going to have to climb over.  So you do what youve done a thousand times before, you put your arm over the rock and hoist yourself up to climb over  but then without warning, the rock shifts  and pins your arm between the rock and the canyon wall.
Excruciating pain!  You panic  you try to pull your arm out  try to pry the rock up  try to break the rock.  After a while you try to calm yourself  OK lets think this through.  How am I going to get out of this and thats when it really hits youyou are in BIG trouble.  You cant get your arm free there is NOBODY within 20 miles of you, so you cant call for helpoh  and no way youll get a phone signal down here in this crevice.  Youre 100 feet down in a canyon, so nobody is going to SEE you unless they are specifically LOOKING for you but remember  nobody will even notice youre missing for another week  and then theyd have to search a huge wilderness area filled with a thousand crevices to find you, because you arent on any path and didnt tell anybody which direction youd be heading..

Do you feel the gravity of the situation?  Oh  and since youre in Utah, its very easy to get dehydrated  and you only have maybe enough liquids to get you through one day.  You might have enough food for a few days, but without liquids in this desert, youre toast.

What would you do?

I imagine many of you have heard the story about Aron Ralston  in fact, you may have seen the movie about him called 127 hours.  This situation pretty much describes Arons experience back in 2003.  He spent more than 5 days, pinned in the canyon - doing everything he could to stay alive hoping beyond hope that somebody would find him.  But finally, on the 5th day, he came to the conclusion that if he didnt do something drastic, he was going to die.

So he did do something drastic He took out his pocket knife and cut his arm off  broke the bone  and then climbed out of the canyon and hiked 8 miles until he came across some other people who helped him get out of the wilderness.

Its gruesome, I know  but think about it  if it was you  could you do it?  If you knew that it was a choice between living to see tomorrow with one hand  or dying right there in the canyon with two hands could you and I do it?

I think this perfectly illustrates what Jesus is saying today.  What has us pinned in the canyon?  How is Satan holding us down?  If there is anything in our lives that is causing us to sin, cut it off better to go to heaven with one hand, than to go to hell with two hands.

We all have SOMETHING we need to cut off.   Yeah, Jesus may not seriously want us to cut off body parts but he IS seriously talking about taking RADICAL ACTION.  Maybe TV is your downfall  throw away the TV.  Maybe were stingy and greedy with our money  if that is causing us to sin  cut it off!  If alcohol is our problem  dump it out.  If lust is your problem, get rid of the things that lead you into that temptation.  I know thats particularly a problem for men, but I understand some women struggle with that as well.
But theres another Radical teaching in the Gospel we shouldnt overlook.  Jesus says that whoever causes somebody else to sin  it would be better if they were thrown into the sea.  So even if we are not committing the sin, if something we do CONTRIBUTES to someone else sinning, we share the guilt.  How we dress  how we act  how we speak  peer pressure if anything I do contributes to somebody else being led into temptation it would be better if I was thrown into the sea with a millstone around my neck.
Its time we stop watering down the Gospel Jesus is calling for RADICAL discipleship.  We are not going to STUMBLE into HeavenWell only find if we SEEK it.  Well only experience heaven if we make radical change in our lives.  Ask God to point out the things in your life where Satan has us pinned.  Whatever draws us to sin OR however we contribute to someone elses sin  bring it to confession

 and cut it off.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

2015/08/02 daily bread

Before Mass:

Give us this day our daily bread we pray it all the time but what does it mean?  Todays readings give us some insight into that.  To set the stage, it helps to know that todays Gospel come the day after last Sundays Gospel where Jesus fed the 5000.  Pay attention to the details today.  Pay attention to what the Israelites say in that first reading and think about what it really implies.  Notice the attitude of the crowd in the Gospel, and think about what THAT really implies. 


Ever read the Little House on the Prairie books?  GREAT reading honestly.  Its a simple story which tells a lot about how people lived in the late 1800s in the plains.  In one book called The Long Winter, their town in Minnesota had gotten cut off from civilization by a series of blizzards.  For MONTHS, the train couldnt get through, so there were no provisions no food.  All they had was wheat and not enough of that.  They would take their daily ration of wheat and make a course bread from it and for months THAT was all they ate.  As you can imagine, they were close to starvation.  I bring it up because of what the little girl said one time as they sat down to eat.  Something like Ill be glad if I never see wheat bread again as long as I live.  Her mom immediately snapped at her for being so ungrateful.  Mom knew that there was only enough wheat left for one more day and after that there was no telling how she would feed the family.   

Its easy, when were in the midst of suffering, to concentrate on what we DONT have, rather than the blessings.  The girl had lost sight of what a blessing it was to have that daily portion of bread. 

The Israelites had DEFINITELY lost sight of the blessings theyd received.  They somehow forgot all the wonders God had done to deliver them out of Egypt the plagues, the parting of the red sea, the pillar of fire  today, they were lamenting that they were hungry and apparently they were all drama-queens oh, if ONLY we had stayed in Egypt!  At least there we had enough food to eat!  REALLY  do you realize what youre saying?  YOU WOULD RATHER BE A SLAVE TO PHAROAOH THAN BE FREE.  Really?  Yeah- pharaoh might beat us and make us work all day for nothing and kill our kids and deprive us of our dignity but hey at least we had food!!!

God needed to teach them a lesson.  It wasnt their fault they acted like that:  The Israelites had been slaves for 400 years, so ALL THEY KNEW was to trust PHAROAOH to feed them.  God needed to get them to realize that HE is the real source of their food.  Listen to this one line again:

Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not.

Notice the part about the daily portion remind you of anything?  give us this day our daily bread.  Gods been trying to teach us to take only what we need for like 3000 years now.  See God sent just enough manna for everyone to have what they need.  The catch is anything you dont eat today will rot overnight.  So anything I collect more than what I need is wasted AND it means somebody else didnt get their share.

They needed to learn to depend on GOD for their daily bread. 

God provides what we need every day.  Some days it will seem like not enough but He gives us enough to sustain us through the desert.  Youve probably heard the cliché:  if God brings you to it, hell bring you through it.  If God leads you to the desert, hell provide what you need to get through that desert. Often we wont recognize the manna while were in the midst of lifes troubles - until afterward -looking back.  We thought he had abandoned us, but in hindsight, we see his Grace at work sustaining us each day of the journey.   

Jerry spent several years in the desert.  He started drinking when he was in High School it started out as a social thing, you know, to fit in with the crowd.  Through college, weekends were for one thing:  drinking parties.  After dropping out of college, Jerry found that he couldnt stop drinking.  Anytime he tried to put the bottle down, he would get depressed and shaky.  When he was drinking, he felt like he was fun to be around like everybody was his friend but when he put the bottle down, he found that he didnt have anything to say.  So he kept drinking  but it was killing him.  He lost his job three times, because too often he just wouldnt show up.  He couldnt hold a steady relationship with the women he dated.  He had alienated his brothers and sisters because he had lied to them repeatedly and even stole from them to be able to afford his next drinking binge.  He knew his life was in shambles he wanted so much more out of life so he TRIED to quit but every time he tried, the depression would set in again.  Then hed think at least while I was drinking, I was fun to be around.  The guys at the bar were all my buddies but now Ive got nobody.

He decided that it was better to be a slave to his addiction than to be free.  At least with his addiction, he didnt have to feel the pain that the alcohol had caused to him and those around him he could stay numb. 

Jerry was like the Israelites in the desert.  They would rather be slaves to Pharoah than take a chance that God could sustain them in the desert.  Better the devil you know that the devil you to speak. 

How does that fit your life and mine?  We all have situations, addictions, and habits that control us at times.  Only you know what it is in your own life something that you know you should get rid of but its easier to just keep it, rather than upsetting the boat. 

Think of the woman in an abusive relationship who stays with her husband for years and hides the bruises. Shes afraid to leave because well at least with him she has a roof over her head and food to eat.  Besides, if she were to try to get help, it might upset him and make him even more violent.  And what will people think of me!? 

Or the guy at work who is so negative such an instigator of trouble that he is poisoning the whole place.  Everyones attitude suffers because he brings everyone down.  However, he also goes out of his way to do extra work all the time so the folks in charge dont want to chase him away.  Better to live with the poisonous attitude than to risk getting less work done. 

All of these situations require a leap of faith a journey into the desert of the unknown.  Would we prefer to stay in our slavery to our addictions and habits or would we like to feel the freedom that God offers?  God doesnt guarantee that every leap of faith will be easy or even successful but in every journey, Hes teaching us to trust HIM to sustain us daily

but we might not recognize the manna until weve gotten through the desert.

Monday, July 20, 2015

2015/07/19 Sheep without a Shepherd

Before Mass:  The first reading scares me today  it is a warning to all pastors who fail to keep the flock together.  Woe to you shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock!  You know  there are many members of our flock who will not be with us this weekend is that MY fault?  Is there something I taught that I shouldnt have?  Is there something I failed to teach that I should have?  God promises to punish me and Fr. Eugene if we DONT do everything in our power to keep HIS flock together.  This is serious business with eternal consequences.

Today - Be thinking for yourself about two questions:  The big question is this:  who is MY shepherd?  Who do I allow to lead me?
And secondly  in some way  every ONE of us is responsible for keeping the flock together so ask yourself what role do I play in scattering the flock?  In what way to do I work to keep the flock together?

They were like Sheep without a Shepherd.
What do you mean no shepherds?  They had synagogues and temples with rabbis and priests and scholars of the law....they had plenty of shepherds.  Plenty of people who claimed to be in charge of the flock.  But Jesus himself said  they were like sheep without a shepherd.
What did Jesus see in them?  What does a sheep without a shepherd look like?  I dont have experience myself  but Im told that merino sheep are very high on the brain scale.  If theyre caught in a flood, they wont move to higher ground.  If a wildfire is headed their way, theyll run around in a circle until the fire catches them.  If water is available in three corners of the pen, theyll all gather in the fourth corner and die of dehydration.  Now this may be exaggeration, but who am I to say.  Is THAT what Jesus saw that made him think the people were sheep without a shepherd?  Was he calling them stupid?  I dont think so  Theres another story I heard of a ship carrying sheep across the water and one Ram jumped off and the entire herd followed and drowned. 
THIS that might explain what Jesus saw.  Sheep WANT to follow a leader.  While they have their individuality, their instinct is to follow.  Without a GOOD leader, theyll follow anything.

Jesus saw that the people were searching for a leader 

The religious leaders of the day who were SUPPOSED to care for the flock hadnt done the job.  Religion was not about relationship with God  only rules.  All those rules were used to EXCLUDE people.  The average guy couldncompeted Just to go to the temple, they had to go through a series of ritual washings just to enter the temple so much so that most would say, I cant compete...I can never be good enoughIm not even worthy to go to church

Jesus knew these people were like sheep without a shepherd  they were SEARCHING for a leader.  They would follow anybody who gave them hope because as far as they knew, they had been excluded from Gods kingdom.  They were cut off from God!

Is that you and I?  Are we looking for a someone to follow?  Will we follow any teaching that makes us feel good?   Thats really the main question of the day: who do I allow to teach me?  Who do I allow to shepherd me?  Political leaders?, Donald Trump?  radioand tv?, friends, Internet?.. and likewise:  Who leads your children?   

This is where the psalm comes in the Lord is my Shepherd in verdant pastures he gives me repose do you know what that really means?  We donsayverdant and repose very often in fact, I only say that when Im reciting this psalm  J   whats it mean?  Verdant is green  kind of like it is here after all the rain  lush, green, lots of grass.  Repose means sleep!... So its really saying in green pastures he gives me sleep This is important if you understand the geography in Israel  its pretty dry, so as soon as the flock awakened, the shepherd would drive them like 10 miles to find a new pasture because they all the grass the night before and slept where there was no grass left. You woke up hungry and had to walk for hours before you could eat againThe Good shepherd takes us to a pasture that is so plentifulso verdant, we can start eating as soon as we get up in the morning.
By restful waters he leads me’… the watering holes were a dangerous place predators would lurk there, so sheep were scared even to approach it.  But the good shepherd takes us to a watering hole where we dont have to be afraid.
Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side
This surely applies to us we all go through dark times.  In those moments, often our only source of courage and peace is our shepherd.  If we didnt have Jesus beside us in those times of despair, how could we go on?

So  is HE?  Is Jesus YOUR shepherd?
Can we honestly say that we look to our shepherd at the beginning of each day to thank Him for the verdant pastures around us  all those blessings he gives us:... the house we live in, the bed we woke up in, the food awaiting us in the kitchen. 
Do we look to Jesus to guide us throughout the day?  To protect us from evil?

Or  do we only follow Him when its convenientpolitically correct or when theres something in it for us?  Back to our big question of the day:  if we DONT allow Jesus to lead us every minute of the day, who DO we allow to lead us the rest of the time?

Whereas the good shepherd leads us in paths of righteousness, any other leader will lead us down many wrong paths.  We dont have to look far to see how the culture is leading us away from God and toward evil.  Our culture is like a wolf, picking off one lamb at a time. devouring souls.  The sad part is that in many respects, weve done it to ourselves. 
Our culture has chosen shepherds who publicly made it clear that they stand against the teachings of the Church…and some of them even call themselves Catholic.  As Americans, we are free to choose them… but when we choose shepherds like that - we can’t be surprised that they’ll put into place a set of judges who will redefine the foundations of our society.  Obviously, I’m referring to the series of court decisions on abortion rights and the recent decision about the definition of Marriage.  Honestly, the day is likely coming where we won’t get married in Church anymore.  More likely, you’ll come to the Church for the Sacrament of Matrimony… then go to the courthouse to have the marriage license signed.  Christianity is under attack…But we knew that when we chose who we wanted to follow.  
It’s still our choice:  We can choose to follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd – or we can choose to follow anybody who makes us feel good… but we might find ourselves following them off the side of the ship.