Dear Community and Friends of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi,
May the Lord give you peace.
I ask your prayers this weekend for 3 young friars, James Bernard, Steven Kuehn, and Aaron Richardson, who were ordained priests on Saturday. They professed their Solemn Vows here at St. Francis last year. We are blessed to have these young friars ministering in our Province. I ask for your prayers for them and thanksgiving to God for them. The ordination is in Silver
Spring, MD, at St. Camillus Church.
The Gospel this weekend affirms Jesus as the gate of the sheepfold. He is the way. He is the shepherd who knows his sheep. The scriptures are replete with images of the shepherd. From the very beginning of Genesis, we learn that Abel, the brother of Cain, was a shepherd. Moses was tending the flocks when he saw the burning bush; David was a shepherd in the field when the prophet came to anoint him, king. In the prophets, we hear of kings and priests who shepherded the people badly. In Ezekiel, we hear that God, as God, will shepherd them, nurturing them, binding up their wounds, leading them to places of rest and water. The bad shepherds placed heavy burdens on the sheep and used them for themselves. They grew fat on the lamb’s meat, kept warm while the sheep were exposed to the elements, and were not attentive to their needs.
Jesus the Good Shepherd, the gate of the sheepfold, fulfills Ezekiel’s prophecy. He came to lead the sheep, God’s community, into freedom. His ministry was healing, nurturing, seeking out the lost, and creating a new vision of God’s loving-kindness. As we have celebrated Easter together, we remember the mission of Jesus. We hold fast to His Word and presence. We continue to be fed at his table and as members of his body. Our mission is to continue to do what he has done. In John’s Gospel, chapter 21, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”. Peter affirms his love for Jesus. Three times he is asked, and three times he affirms. After each of his affirmations, Jesus charges him to be the shepherd who tends and feeds his lamb, his sheep.
Like Peter, we affirm our love for Jesus, accept the commission to shepherd one another, and seek out the lost and broken. We create a safe space for all who are called.
Thank you for your hospitality, your care for all who come to our doors, and your living the Gospel in your own unique way. We are blessed and enriched by the wonders of God present in our midst.
Fr. Tom, ofm