Joyful Hope

May the joy of Easter lift your heart and mind!

Last weekend was Good Shepherd Sunday and we reflected upon the intimate relationship that existed between the sheep and the shepherd during Jesus’ day in Palestine.  We realized once again the need and dependence that the sheep had on the shepherd for food, protection and well-being.  When we think of Jesus as the shepherd, we tend to visualize him as a shepherd that is always benevolent and attentive to his flock—and rightly so.  This weekend we are given another paradigm that points to a much deeper and fuller intimacy between ourselves and God.  It is much more human in its terms of relationship.  This weekend, in his farewell discourse to his disciples, Jesus speaks in terms of betrothal and the promise of a coming marriage.  Once again, he uses the practices of the Jewish culture of his day to open our hearts and minds that we may attempt to grasp the beauty and power of God’s love for us.  The key to entering into this invitation to intimacy is faith and trust.

As I reflect on the positioning of this set of readings in the context of the Easter Season, I am reminded of my own pilgrimage and the way the calendar of the Church leads us in a cyclical fashion through particular stages toward union with God.  At Easter one of my favorite phrases among the prefaces states  ”the joy of the resurrection renews the whole world.”   When I reflect on this phrase while living in the Easter Season, it seems that we are on the very threshold of eternal life!  But now in these readings we return to a context of farewell.   Jesus is preparing us for the departure of the Easter Season of grace, but we are not to worry or be sorrowful.  Rather, we are to focus in faith and make the daily effort to be ready for the moment he returns to gather each one us personally and intimately to himself.  May God’s promise of love sustain you in everlasting hope! +++ Fr. Peter

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