Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. James Farfaglia

4/21/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Marriage and consecrated life are essentially vocations to shepherd others.

Anyone who has experienced the loving and generous care of a true mother, father, priest, deacon or religious will know what a true shepherd really is. 

Highlights

By Fr. James Farfaglia

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/21/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Year of Faith

Keywords: year of faith, sunday homilies, homily, father james farfaglia, easter, Jesus and Peter, love, feed my sheep


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - One of my favorite movies is The Delta Force.  American tourists are hijacked by Arab terrorists who hold the hostages in Beirut.  Lee Marvin and Chuck Norris lead an elite team of U.S. Special Forces that rescue the endangered travelers. 

At the beginning of the tragedy, the two Arab terrorists aboard the jetliner begin to separate the few Jewish tourists from the rest of the hostages. 

One of the most moving moments of the film is when Fr. William O'Malley, a priest from Chicago played by George Kennedy, gets up from his seat and walks into the First Class compartment where the Jews are being held.

Kennedy courageously walks into the compartment where he is disdainfully met by the leading terrorist.

The terrorist asks what his name is and Kennedy responds that his name is William O'Malley.  Perplexed by the situation, the terrorist asks what the priest wants. He responds that since he is a Catholic priest and a follower of Jesus Christ, that he too is Jewish.  "If you take one, you have to take us all," answers the priest who willingly accompanies the Jewish hostages. 

"I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish" (John 10: 28).

The main part of the Holy Land was a large central plateau about 35 miles long.  The ground was for the most part rough and rocky.  It was impossible for sheep just to stay in one area for grazing.  Large areas for grazing simply did not exist.  Every flock had to have a shepherd who led his flock every day to places where the sheep could eat. 

The life of a shepherd was very difficult.  A flock of sheep never grazed without his presence and therefore, the shepherd was on duty every day of the week.  Since the sheep always had to travel in order to find grass to eat, they were never left alone.  Sheep could get lost, or they could be attacked by wolves or stolen by robbers. 

Sheep were seldom used for regular food by the people of the Holy Land; rather sheep were cultivated for the use of their wool.  Thus, the shepherd was with his sheep for a very long time.  He gave each one of them a name, and they all knew his voice.  In fact, it is said that each shepherd had a peculiar way of speaking to the sheep that allowed them to know that he was their shepherd.

During the warm weather, it was common for the sheep to spend the night away from the village farm.  The shepherd watched over them throughout the night.  In these circumstances, the sheep stayed in open areas surrounded by a low rock wall.  In these areas, the sheep entered and left through an open space which had no door or gate of any kind.

During the night, the shepherd would sleep stretched out within the empty space so that no sheep could get out except by crossing over his body.  At the same time, a wolf or a robber could not get in, expect by crossing over his body as well.  Here we can see a prime example of how the shepherd would give his life for his sheep. 

Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  The Easter Season is a continual celebration of the one central mystery of Christianity: the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 

"For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Revelation 7: 17).

Applied to our practical lives, the message is clear.  Whatever our state in life may be, we are all called to shepherd the sheep that have been entrusted to our care. 

Dedication, commitment, sacrifice and vigilance are needed every day.  Just like Jesus the Good Shepherd, shepherds are called to love unconditionally.

In 2001, 17 year-old Daniel Hodd was beginning a successful career as a concert pianist.  However, he also had a deep desire to serve his country by joining the Marines.  Turning down a scholarship from the Julliard School of Music, he enlisted in 2002 and a year later he was deployed to Iraq. 

As his career in the Marines continued, Daniel snapped three of his fingers in a vehicle door as his was training for a second deployment in 2008.  One of his fingers was broken, and he was not allowed to go on deployment.

Daniel wanted to go with his unit and he knew that a lot of his fellow Marines were depending upon him, so he decided to have his broken finger amputated. 

A doctor gave him two options, Daniel says: "You can either try some treatment plan, and you definitely won't deploy, or you just cut it off and you get on a plane."

Daniel decided to get on the plane.  

Anyone who has experienced the loving and generous care of a true mother, father, priest, deacon or religious will know what a true shepherd really is. 

True shepherds give their lives to those who have been entrusted to them.  They do not live for themselves.  Marriage and consecrated life are essentially vocations to shepherd others.

My dear friends, immature shepherds who are absorbed with themselves produce dysfunctional homes and spiritually dead parishes.  They are unwilling to love those who have been entrusted to their care.

Sheep without a shepherd cannot find the way.  People who are abandoned will eventually be lost.  Life, especially today, is filled with many challenges, and sheep without a shepherd will be overwhelmed and frightened.

Sheep without a shepherd will not know where to pasture.  By nature, we have deep spiritual desires.  If we do not eat what is good, we will feed upon the garbage of the world. 

We need the sustenance that will help us continue through the journey of life without becoming discouraged. 

We need the inspiration that can pull us through our difficult moments.

When we eat the garbage of the world, our hearts will remain restless and our souls will be starving.

Happy homes are found where parents love their children unconditionally.  Flourishing parishes are found where the sheep have plenty of good grass.

Sheep without a shepherd have no defense against the wolves of this world.

The human person is a social being and is incapable of living life alone.  No one by his own efforts can defend himself from the temptations that assail him and from the evil of the world that attacks him. 

Parents who are home with their children; parents who have dinner with their children each night as a family; parents who review every book, every television program, every CD, DVD and Internet site; parents who are dedicated to really parenting their children are true shepherds of their homes. 

True shepherding is a life of total self-giving.  The true shepherd needs time for renewal in order to shepherd the flock.  The true shepherd needs to spend time daily with Jesus, the chief shepherd.  He will give us the strength, the inspiration and the sustenance to shepherd the flock.

Periodic moments of solitude and silence are essential for the continued ability to give unconditionally. 

If we are going to be true disciples of the Good Shepherd, we must forget ourselves completely and be totally dedicated.  Jesus calls us to love one another unconditionally.

Father James Farfaglia is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org and listen to the audio podcast of this Sunday homily.   Apps for Father James' homilies are now available for Android and iPhone. 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More Year of Faith

The Wedding Invitation of Jesus: We are Called to Live the Nuptial Mystery Watch

Image of There will be no giving or taking in marriage in the kingdom to come because the very purpose and meaning of marriage itself will be fulfilled. (See, e.g. Mk. 12:18-27) We will be living in the fullness of the Communion of Love with the Trinity. The symbol will give way to the eternal reality, the Sacrament will be fulfilled in the fullness of communion. All of human love will be completed in the Love which lasts forever.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is not accidental that the Bible, from beginning to the end, uses marriage as a metaphor and a symbol to reveal the plan of God for the whole human race.  Marriage was God's plan from the beginning as we see in the first book of Genesis. Throughout the Old ... continue reading


The Sower. The Seed. The Field. Understanding the Christian Mission Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

"A sower went out to sow. And, as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for ... continue reading


Reflection on the Catholic Catechism: Understanding the Bible Watch

Image of

By Michael Terheyden

How we interpret the Bible is of immense importance! It directly affects what we believe about Christ, the Church, and our faith, but it is also related to many of the grave problems in our society and the world. Yet, despite the gravity of this situation, we have good ... continue reading


Christ the King, the Year of Faith and the Catholic Counterculture Watch

Image of On this Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Year of Faith inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI comes to a ceremonial end. However, in reality, it cannot and will not end, because Jesus Christ is King! The Year of Faith was only the beginning for those who choose to live the Life of Faith.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Church year offers to each one of us to consider the creature called time, receive it as a gift, and begin to really live our lives differently.  This is one of ... continue reading


The Bones of Peter, the Successor of Peter: Close of the Year of Faith Watch

Image of The bones of St. Peter the Apostle

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Sunday which marks both the end of the Church Year and the end of the Year of Faith, inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis greeted thousands of the faithful and presided over Holy Mass and the ... continue reading


Fr Randy Sly on Becoming a House of Prayer Watch

Image of Jesus drives the money changers from the temple. 

With hearts clear and focused on our Lord, we can follow the advice of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Everything starts with prayer. Love to pray--feel the need to pray often during the day and take the trouble to pray. If you want to pray better, you must pray more. The more you pray, the easier it becomes. Perfect prayer does not consist of many words but in the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus. (Fr. Randy Sly)

By Father Randy Sly

Becoming a House of Prayer is the best discipline we can take on. St. Ephraem of Syria states that Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy ... continue reading


Jesus Weeps and Offers the Path to Peace Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

If this day you only knew what makes for peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your ... continue reading


The Kingdom of God is Among You. What Did Jesus Mean? Watch

Image of The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well. Indeed, we call an apostolate every activity of the Mystical Body that aims to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth. (CCC#863)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In Jesus Christ, the Kingdom has been inaugurated. Upon his return it will be made complete and fully manifested in a new heaven and a new earth. We are members of the Body of Christ which makes it present here and now - as seed and sign for a world which is in labor. ... continue reading


Year of Faith: Bringing the Feast of the Presentation of Mary to Life Watch

Image of The Feast of the Presentation of Mary is celebrated in both the Eastern and Western Churches. It recalls the day in the life of the Jewish girl named Mary (Maryam) when her parents, Joachim and Anne, presented her to the Lord in the temple and dedicated her life to Him.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On this Feast of the Presentation of Mary, let us make the choice to surrender ourselves to the same Lord who Joachim and Ann honored when they presented their dear daughter in the temple. Their daughter, Mary, became the Second Eve. The New Creation was born through ... continue reading


WEDNESDAY HOMILY: Our Lady's Encouragement Watch

Image of

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT

I got off the subway at Termini station and went up to the busy streets of Rome.  I had to walk past the place where all the prostitutes gathered.  I looked down at the street and began to pray in fear.  Suddenly I heard a feminine voice say, "Be a man!" ... continue reading


All Year of Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:7-16
7 On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents Of David] I rejoiced that they ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:1-9
1 It was just about this time that some people ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 25th, 2014 Image

St. Daria
October 25: There is very little known about them. Chrysanthus was an ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter