Original Franciscan "Third Order" -- Confraternity of Penitents
Make Every Day a Path to Holiness
Bishop Kevin Rhoades' Homily on the Blessing of Mary's Glen
MONDAY OF FOURTH WEEK OF EASTER – MAY 8, 2017
(MASS WITH BLESSING OF MARY’S GLEN)
Yesterday, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, was Good Shepherd Sunday. The Gospel yesterday concluded with these words of Jesus: "I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
God the Father offers us an infinity of life and love through Jesus, His son. How is this abundant life available to us?
Today’s Gospel, which is a continuation of yesterday’s Gospel from John, Chapter 10, tells us. Jesus makes this abundant life available to us by laying down His life for us. He says: “A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus is this Good Shepherd who gave his life for us on the cross in a perfect act of self-giving love.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is also the Lamb. He is the Lamb of God who offered Himself in sacrifice for us, that we might have life and have it abundantly. At this Mass and at every Mass, we are reminded of this truth. Our Shepherd gave us his Body and poured out His Blood for us. The Mass is the memorial of the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.
In the Gospel today, Jesus also says that, as the Good Shepherd, He knows his sheep and His sheep know Him, just as the Father knows Him and He knows the Father. Jesus knows each of us. He knows us each by name. Jesus has an intimate, mutual, personal relationship in mind when he proclaims: “I know mine and mine know me.” Jesus enjoys such an intimate relationship with His Father.
In other places in Saint John’s Gospel, He says: “The Father and I are one” and “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” This is beautiful to contemplate, that Jesus and His Father are united in mutual love and Jesus invites us and draws us into that love. He enables us to have an intimate, personal relationship with Him that mirrors and participates in the relationship between Him and His Father. In fact, He lays down his life for us, His sheep, out of the love He and His Father have for each other, the love that He extends to us and the world. Jesus lays down His life so that people may have abundant, eternal life, entering into the eternal of of the Father and the Son.
At the end of this Mass, I will be blessing Mary’s Glen, this prayer chapel and these grounds. I pray that this will be a place where people may encounter and experience the love of the Good Shepherd, that people who walk these grounds and pray here will be refreshed in their souls. This outdoor place of prayer in the middle of a busy city is a place for people to grow in their relationship with the Lord, to be reminded that Christ came that we might have life and have it abundantly. It is a place for not only Catholics and those who are part of the sheepfold, but also for others, those people about whom Jesus says: "I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.” He says: “These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice….”. So I pray today also for those who will come here who perhaps do not know the Lord or belong to the Church, that they might hear the loving voice of the Good Shepherd here at Mary’s Glen.
This place is named in honor of the Blessed Mother. Reflecting today on Jesus, her Son, as the Good Shepherd I invite you to consider one of her many titles: “Mary, Mother of the Good Shepherd.” The Good Shepherd, when He was laying down His life for His sheep, when He was hanging on the cross, gave us His Mother to be our Mother, to look after us with maternal love and care. As she loved and cared for her beloved Son, the Good Shepherd, so she also loves and cares for us, the sheep for whom He laid down His life. She wants us to receive the life He came to give us and to have it abundantly.
So we also ask our Blessed Mother, the Mother of the Good shepherd, to intercede for all who come here to Mary’s Glen. May she lead them to her Son, to know and experience in their hearts that He is the Good shepherd who laid down his life for them!
The One who said that He came that we might have life and have it abundantly also said: “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” In the Eucharist, we receive Our Lord’s very flesh and blood. We receive the bread of life and the blood of our salvation. This is the sacrament of Christ’s love, the love of the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for us. May it strengthen us in our mission to love one another as He has loved us!
--Bishop Kevin Rhoades
More images from the Blessing in this Gallery.