Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 25 at St. Francis Xavier Parish
This Sunday we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Easter, and the Liturgy of the Word focuses on the image of Christ as the Good Shepherd.
“This Sunday’s gospel presents us with one of the most loved images of Jesus when he says of himself, “I am the good shepherd.” We are sometimes seduced by images of a smiling Middle Eastern shepherd with a cuddly, clean, and fluffy lamb tucked under his arm. Much less romantic and more accurate and robust is the earliest known statue (ca. 60 CE) of the Good Shepherd at Caesarea Maritima in Israel. The legless remnant has a huge, heavy sheep draped around the shepherd’s shoulders. To carry such a load would be no easy task! In 1 Samuel, we have another vigorous Old Testament description of a shepherd in the context of King Saul’s attempt to dissuade the young David from fighting against the mighty Philistine warrior, Goliath. David argues his case for the fight with a graphic description of how he kept sheep for his father: “[W]henever a lion or bear came to carry off a sheep from the flock, I would chase after it, attack it, and snatch the prey from its mouth. If it attacked me, I would seize it by the throat, strike it, and kill it…. The same Lord who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (17:34-35, 37).
As our Good Shepherd, Jesus fights for us, saves us from the gaping jaws of whatever or whoever seeks to grab and destroy our discipleship and wound the little “flock” of the Christian community. He shepherds us with his loving care so that we may “have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). In contrast to the Good Shepherd is the hireling who is concerned primarily with his own self-interest: his reputation, remuneration, and safety. Through the prophets, God had denounced the shepherd leaders of Israel who had prostituted their pastoral ministry. “I myself will pasture my sheep,” God promises his people (Ezek 34:15; cf. Isa 40:11; Jer 31:10). There are still some political, social, and ecclesial “hired men” with us, but there are also the magnificent shepherds who are willing to lay down their life for their sheep. (Living Liturgy 2021)
On Wednesday of this week the Bishop’s Office released the list of clergy moves for this year, and as some of you already know, my name is on it. My pastorate here at St. Francis Xavier Parish will come to its completion on June 30 at 12:00 noon. At that time the new pastor, Fr. Ross Campbell, appointed by the bishop, will embrace this position. As you know from the online parish bulletin two 2 weeks ago, the process involving the appointment of new pastors is quite lengthy and requires a lot of insight into the specific needs of each parish community, as well as the bishop’s knowledge of the priest who is appointed for each position. Fr. Ross, with his deep dedication to the priestly ministry, tremendous devotion to the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the celebration of Mass, and his youthfulness, is a really good choice by the Bishop for St. Francis Xavier Parish. Fr. Ross will be joined here by a new associate pastor, Fr. Peter Robinson, who at the present time is a transitional deacon assisting at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Stoney Creek, and will soon be ordained as a priest for our Diocese. That means that Fr. Claude Perera will also be leaving our parish. He will be going back to Sri Lanka either at the end of August or the end of September of this year. As for myself, I wish to say how grateful I am to have been able to spend the past 6 years in your midst here at St. Francis Xavier. I am certain that there will be many opportunities for us to say goodbye to one another over the next couple of months.
In your prayers please remember the souls of our parishioners who passed away this week: Bettina Cipriani, whose funeral took place on Monday of this week here at St. Francis, and Serena Di Legge, whose funeral Mass will be celebrated after the current lockdown. Also please pray for their families who are grieving their loss: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
I would like to thank the Cipriani Family for mentioning our parish in the obituary for their mother and suggesting that memorial contributions to St. Francis Xavier Parish would be sincerely appreciated by the family. It is a wonderful way to support our parish, which is a constant part of our lives from the moment of our sacramental baptism and throughout many other celebrations during our lifetime until the end of our earthly journeys.
Once a month our youth ministry community is coming together on Zoom to pray the Rosary, and all are welcome to take part! Grab your Rosary and join in this coming Wednesday evening, April 28, at 7:00pm as we pray and reflect on the Glorious Mysteries! If you are not already on Wes’ contact list for Zoom invites and would like to participate, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Children’s Liturgy team continues to release a new virtual liturgy video each weekend on the parish YouTube channel. They premiere at 8:00am on Sundays and remain on the channel for you to view whenever it is most convenient.
This Sunday, and each coming Sunday for the duration of the current lockdown, the Lord’s Day Mass will live-streamed on the parish YouTube channel at 10:00am. I hope you can join in with the celebration from your homes.