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PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS

PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS

Lord Jesus Christ, Shepherd of souls, who called the apostles to be fishers of men, raise up new apostles in your holy Church. Teach them that to serve you is to reign: to possess you is to possess all things. Kindle in the young hearts of our sons and daughters the fire of zeal for souls. Make them eager to spread your Kingdom on earth. Grant them the courage to follow you, who are the Way, the Truth and the Life; who live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.

Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for us. Help our students who are preparing for the priesthood.

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MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE

“Does a child trust his parents because he has proved to himself that they are such, and that they are able and desirous to do him good, or from the instinct of affection? We believe, because we love. How plain a truth!…

The Good Shepherd

It is the doctrine then, of the text (‘My sheep hear my voice’), that those who believe in Christ, believe because they know him to be the Good Shepherd; and they know him by his voice, and they know his voice, because they are his sheep… The divine l ye enlightened mind sees in Christ the very object whom it desires to love and worship – the object correlative of its own affections; and it trusts him, or believes, from loving him.”

– Bl. John Henry Newman, A devout affection leads to faith, U.S. , 236

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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THE SALVATION HISTORY OF ALL MEN AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE: THE RANSOM FOR MANY

The Gospel according to Mark, chapter 10

WHAT MOTIVE COULD EXPLAIN THIS SEEMINGLY FOOLISH RESOLVE?

“Caiphas and the enemies of Jesus had resolved to put Jesus to death. The feast of the Pasch was approaching, and Jesus expected to attend the feast at Jerusalem. To avoid the plot of Caiphas, after restoring life to Lazarus at Bethany, Jesus withdrew to Ephraim, a village twenty miles north of Jerusalem. He remained there until it was time to start the journey to Jerusalem for the Pasch.

When Jesus started on the road to Jerusalem the Apostles were both puzzled and frightened. They knew of the enmity of Caiphas for Jesus; they had taken the sojourn of Jesus at Ephraim to mean that Jesus was seeking to avoid the traps of Caiphas. Now Jesus seemed determined to walk into the clutches of His enemies. What motive could explain this seemingly foolish resolve?

Jesus, knowing their fears, said to them, ‘Behold, we are going to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the Scribes; and they will condemn him to death and will deliver him to the Gentiles; and they will mock him, and spit upon him, and scourge him, and put him to death; and on the third day he will rise again’ (Mark 10:33-34).

THE APOSTLES SEEMED TO HOPE IN A GLORIOUS MESSIAS

Jesus knew that His time had come, the time appointed by His Father for Him to die. He foretold it to His Apostles and disciples. He also told them that He would come back to life again on the third day after His death. Both of these predictions were mystifying to the Apostles. They understood neither of them. Their minds were so filled with visions of Jesus as a glorious, triumphant Messias, that they could not perceive any significance in the picture of a suffering, defeated Messias, even if He were to rise again.

‘YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE ASKING FOR’

That the minds of the Apostles were blinded by their own hopes for a glorious Messias is shown by the incident which immediately followed the prediction of the death of Jesus. The mother of the two sons of Zebedee, John and James, came to Jesus and asked Him, ‘Command that these, my two sons may sit, one at Thy right hand, and one at Thy left hand, in Thy kingdom.’ Jesus, addressing John and James, said, ‘You do not know what you are asking for. Can you drink of the cup of which I drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I am to be baptised?’ Believing that Jesus would lead them to a glorious triumph, the sons of Zebedee answered, ‘We can’ (Mark 10: 35-40; Matthew 20:23).

Jesus knew that they misunderstood Him. They had not seen that Jesus was to enter His own glory only after passing through death. Hence He asked them if they were ready to drink of the chalice which He Himself had to drink, that is, the cup of misfortune and death. Even though they did not understand, their loyalty to Jesus remained firm and they answered that they were ready to drink the same cup. Jesus then told them, ‘Of my cup you shall indeed drink; but as for sitting at my right hand and at my left, that is not mine to give you, but it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared by my Father’ (Matthew 20:23).

The other Apostles who had followed the conversation became indignant at the ambition of the two brothers. Jesus took the occasion to enlighten all the Apostles on the true nature of His mission. ‘You know,’ He said to them, ‘that the rulers of the Gentiles lord over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. Not so is it among you. On the contrary, whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; even as the Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matthew 20:25-28).

THE PRICE TO BE PAID TO GOD FOR THE RESTORATION OF DIVINE LIFE TO MEN, THE SALVATION OF MEN

In these words Jesus gently rebuked all the Apostles for their worldly dreams of power. If they were to be His faithful disciples, they must not seek to lord it over their fellowmen, but rather to serve them. Jesus Himself has not come into this world to rule an earthly kingdom, but rather to serve mankind. In fact, He is to give up His life as a ransom for all men. Jesus had already predicted His death three times, the last time just before the ambitious request of the sons of Zebedee. Now, for the first time, He says clearly that His suffering and death will be offered as a ransom for men. He had already hinted at this aspect of His death when He compared Himself to a Good Shepherd and said that the Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep. A ransom is the price paid to liberate someone, and the Good Shepherd lays down His life to save the lives of His sheep. Jesus, therefore, is saying that His life is the price which will be paid for the salvation of men. It is the price to be paid to God for the restoration of divine life to men, the salvation of men, the establishment of the Kingdom of God among men.

‘LORD, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON US’

The Apostles probably did not understand the words of Jesus, but they followed Him on His way to Jerusalem. As they drew near to Jericho, they were met by two blind men. When the blind men heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth who was passing by, they cried out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us.’ Though some would have prevented them from disturbing Jesus, He commanded that they be brought to Him. He asked them what they wished of Him. When they asked Him to restore their sight, Jesus, moved by compassion, touched their eyes, and immediately their sight was given to them.

Shortly afterwards, as they were passing through Jericho, a great crowd filled the street to see Jesus. One of the townspeople, a certain Zacchaeus, a rich publican, climbed a sycamore tree to be able to see Jesus. Now publicans, tax gatherers, were regarded by the people as sinners, as extortioners. It was therefore surprising to the crowd when Jesus, seeing Zacchaeus in the tree, called to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay in thy house today’ (Luke 19:5). Zacchaeus, sinner that he was, was overjoyed at the thought that the Wonderworker, Jesus of Nazareth, condescended to accept the hospitality of his house. But some of the people, probably those opposed to Jesus, murmured that Jesus did not hesitate to be the guest of a sinner. This gesture of Jesus, however, moved Zacchaeus to repentance, and he said, ‘Behold, Lord, I give one half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold’ (Luke 19:8).

THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS

Tax gatherers, publicans, worked for the Roman authorities, gathering taxes for them. For that reason, they appeared to the people as traitors of Israel. The gesture of Zacchaeus in returning the monies he had gained by his trade showed his sincere repentance. Jesus recognised this and said, ‘Today salvation has come to this house since he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost’ (Luke 19:9-10).

In these last words Jesus repeats the lesson He had already given His Apostles. He has come, not to establish an earthly kingdom but to save the souls of sinners. He will give His life for the salvation of men.

Either during or after the meal in the house of Zacchaeus, Jesus told the parable of the talents or the gold pieces. The people were looking on Jesus as a political Messias, who would restore the kingdom of Israel. Jesus knew that their hopes would be disappointed when He died an ignominious death at Jerusalem. He tried, in this parable, to correct their false hopes and lead them to a better hope.

A nobleman, He told them, went to a far country to obtain a kingdom for himself. This would probably recall to the people the history of Herod, who went to Rome to obtain from the Romans the title of King of Judea. The nobleman, before leaving, sent for his servants and gave each of them some gold pieces which they were to use to gain profit for their master. But his enemies sent a delegation after him that they did not desire him to be their king. On his return as king he sent for his servants and demanded an accounting of the gold pieces. One servant had gained ten gold pieces, another five. He rewarded them by giving them positions of power and influence. But one of the servants had been afraid to hazard the piece given him, and so he returned only this piece, without any interest whatsoever. The king took even this piece away from him because he had been a useless servant. The citizens who had opposed him he put to death.

THE MEANING

In this parable Jesus was trying to describe the relations between Himself and His own people. He was the Messias, seeking to establish His own kingdom in the world. But he was to do so only by dying, by leaving His people for a time. In His absence His enemies will work to keep His kingdom from Him. But He gives His Apostles and disciples gold pieces, the means of building up His kingdom for Him. They must work for Him, even in His absence, to build up His kingdom. Even though He Himself is absent from them, they must persevere in His interests with hope and courage.

THE OINTMENT OF GREAT VALUE

After this warning Jesus continued on His journey to Jerusalem. Six days before the Pasch Jesus arrived in Bethany. Here He met Simon the Leper, Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary. While they were reclining at table, Mary took a pound of ointment, spikenard, an ointment of great value. She anointed the head of Jesus with the spikenard, and then, since there was some left over, she anointed His feet also. Judas Iscariot, one of the Apostles, the treasurer of the band of Apostles, objected to this waste. The ointment, he claimed, could have been sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor.

St John tells us that Judas said this, not because he had any great love for the poor but rather because he was avaricious and sought money for himself. It is possible that Judas, of all the Apostles, was the most interested in the establishment by Jesus of an earthly kingdom, a kingdom in which Judas himself would become rich and powerful. He may, at this time, have become discouraged at the refusal of Jesus to seek to establish such a kingdom. In such case the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem, the stronghold of His enemies, would have seemed to Judas to be madness, and so he was already prepared to betray the ‘madman’ who disappointed his hopes.”

– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959

 

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“WHY IS THERE MORE JOY IN HEAVEN FOR ONE MAN WHO REPENTS THAN FOR 99 JUST PERSONS WHO NEED NO REPENTANCE? THIS MAKES NO SENSE TO ME.”

ANSWER: “The parables of Jesus usually have a moral lesson for us when read simply and literally, and a spiritual lesson when read as dramatic illustrations of how Christ fulfilled the Old Testament and brought us salvation. Since Our Lord Himself used the scriptures in this way, the Fathers of the Church followed His example.

The Pharisees knew of the mercy of God for His people: Jesus teaches that the repentance of the sinner is not simply an occasion for relief, but for overflowing joy. Immediately after the parable of the lost sheep, Our Lord tells of the woman who found the coin she had lost. She naturally rejoiced over that coin rather than the others. The point is developed further in the parable of the Prodigal Son, in which the grumbling of the older brother serves as a warning to those who begrudge the generosity of God who will pay the last-hired labourers in the vineyard as much as he pays the first.

The allegorical interpretation of the lost sheep sees Christ as the Good Shepherd, fulfilling the prophecy of Ezekiel 34 in which God identifies Himself as the shepherd who searches for the sheep who have strayed. The lost sheep, representing all humanity, is Adam who has fallen. The Good Shepherd went into the wilderness by becoming incarnate in a sinful world, and then carried the lost sheep home by taking the cross on his shoulders. In this reading of the parable, we are all part of the lost sheep, as members of the fallen race of Adam, and the joy of the virtuous is the rejoicing of heaven in the salvation of mankind.

Our Lord’s parables invite us to prayerful meditation and call us not simply to have an opinion but to change our lives. In the case of the lost sheep, the proper response is sincere repentance for our sins, encouraged by the generosity of Our Lord and the joy of heaven at our salvation.”
– This article by Fr Tim Finigan was published as part of the feature “Catholic Dilemmas” in “The Catholic Herald” issue August 1 2014. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link).

 
 

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PRAYER TO JESUS THE GOOD SHEPHERD

O Lord our Shepherd, You care for Your flock across every desert and through every dark place. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, seek out and restore all those who have lost their way, that we all may come together into the glory of Your Kingdom.
We make this prayer through the same Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

 

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12th MAY, GOSPEL READING (JOHN 10:11-18)

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. Not so the hired hand, or any other person who is not the shepherd, and to whom the sheep do not belong. They abandon the sheep as soon as they see the wolf coming; then the wolf snatches and scatters the sheep. This is because the hired hand works for pay and cares nothing for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father. Because of this, I give my life for my sheep.

I have other sheep which are not of this fold. These I have to lead as well, and they shall listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock, since there is one shepherd.

The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down freely. It is mine to lay down and to take up again: this mission I received from my Father.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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11th MAY, GOSPEL READING (JOHN 10:1-10)

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Jesus said: ”Truly, I say to you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. But the shepherd of the sheep enters by the gate. The keeper opens the gate to him and the sheep hear his voice; he calls each of his sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but rather they will run away from him, because they don’t recognise a stranger’s voice.

Jesus used this comparison, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, I am the gate of the sheep. All who came were thieves and robbers, and the sheep did not hear them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved; he will go in and out freely and find food.

The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, life in all its fullness.

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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