My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
As I was saying before, today we celebrate the Blue Mass. So in our Mass today we are praying in a special way for our brothers and sisters who serve in law enforcement and public safety. First responders and firefighters; police and EMTs and all those who work in hospital emergency rooms. We give thanks today for everyone who has answered the call to service, the call to help keep our communities safe.
We owe you a debt of gratitude, my brothers and sisters. Every day, many of you put your lives on the line for us; put yourselves in harm’s way. We are grateful for your devotion, and your commitment to do what is right and what is true.
So we’re praying for all of you and your families today. And we want to remember especially our fallen brothers and sisters — those who have given their lives in the line of duty. We remember them with gratitude for making this great sacrifice for all of us, for the common good.
And I think it’s very appropriate that we are celebrating the Blue Mass and praying for all of you and your families today as we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. This is the day when the Church especially reflects on the love of Jesus as the Good Shepherd of our souls.
In the Gospel today, we hear this promise of hope:
My sheep hear my voice;
I know them and they follow me.
I give them eternal life and they shall never perish.
This is a beautiful image.
In our personal life, we always recognize the voice of those we love. I would say especially the voice of our parents. And today, once again, we are hearing Jesus’ voice who tells us that he cares for each one of us in a beautiful way — in a very special way.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd! And he calls us to follow him, like a shepherd calls he sleeps.
And in the second reading, we heard those powerful words from the Bible’s last book, the Book of Revelation. Words about Heaven, and as we heard it says:
The Lamb… will shepherd them
and lead them to springs of life-giving water,
The passage is a beautiful image — vision — of heaven. A beautiful vision of the destination we all want to go — where there is no hunger or thirst, and God will wipe away everything from our eyes and frees us from sadness; where he feeds us the bread of life.
My dear brothers and sisters, this is why we are called to follow Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. We are called to follow him because only he knows the way to heaven. Because only he can guide us along that pathway that leads us to God the Father.
But as we know, that road that takes us to heaven begins here on earth.
The road begins right here in our daily lives, in our work, in our homes. So the challenge for all of us today, my dear brothers and sisters — the challenge of today’s passage of the Gospel is to ask ourselves if we are listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd in our lives? Are we listening to him and following him?
It’s a good question. And I’m sure that we all are — just by the fact that we are here — we are answering yes, we are trying to listen to Jesus and trying to follow him.
But following Jesus means we are called to look to him — to really pray about and think about the figure of Jesus that we find in the Gospels.
The Gospels, as we know, are the life of Christ. As you know, during this time we do Confirmations here in the Archdiocese in the Easter season. And as you know that I like to tell the young men and women that are receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation that the Gospels are Jesus’ facebook page.
They kinda like it — they can relate to that.
It’s true. The Gospels are the life of Christ and what is in a facebook page? Where people go, what they do, their friends, pictures, family — sometimes there are too many things in those facebook pages, isn’t it true?
But that’s what the Gospels are all about. I don’t know if you noticed that Pope Francis, on the anniversary of his election this year, on March 13th, he gave the people that attended the Angeles at St. Peter’s square a pocket-sized copy of the Holy Gospels according to St. Luke. And that little pocket-book started with St. Luke’s Gospel of Mercy. Because, as we know, we are celebrating the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
So the Pope wanted all the people attending the Angelus, and as he was speaking to them on March 13th, to have a pocket-sized book of the Gospels.
I wish we could do that here Monsignor Kostelnik but it’s a little expensive, I guess. I don’t know how the Pope is able to give those Gospels for whatever 40,000 people of something. We need to do another collection, Monsignor. That wouldn’t be popular.
And Pope Francis said to them on that day, “I invite you to take this Gospel and to read it. A little passage everyday. So the mercy of the Father might dwell in your heart and so that you will bring that mercy to everyone that you meet.”
So my brothers and sisters, we really need to find the way to find the time — to spend some time — every day, a few minutes reading the Gospel. Just a little time everyday.
That’s all it take to hear the Lord’s voice. Little by little, we come to learn how to be like him in our actions, in our thoughts. Cause when we look at Jesus, when we listen to the Shepherd’s voice, it’s showing us the way of love, a way of mercy.
Because the path of the Good Shepherd is the path of service. Is the path of thinking about the needs of others. Is the path of guiding and protecting, healing and feeding our brothers and sisters. And this is our mission in life.
This is what we see the first disciples of Jesus doing in the first reading of today’s Mass that we just heard. And like those first disciples, we are called to open every door that keeps people closed off and separated from God.
Because the Good Shepherd is always looking for the ones who have fallen away, the ones who get lost. That’s the way we should do it too.
We have to reach out in love to those who feel forgotten, to those who feel excluded and misunderstood.
No one can be left behind in our families, in our society. Everyone needs to feel the tenderness of the Good Shepherd.
So today, let us especially ask for the grace to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd in our lives.
Let us ask for the grace to put our lives in our hands and to let him guide us and lead us in the way of service to our neighbors and our society.
Let us especially continue to pray for all those who are entrusted with the vocation to serve our society in Law Enforcement and public safety. May God bless them, and protect them, and help them to carry out their duty in imitation of the Good Sheperd, with concern and respect for every person.
And may our Blessed Mother Mary help us all to always follow the path of her Son, the Good Shepherd.
1. Readings (4th Sunday of Easter, Year C): Acts 13:14, 43–52; Ps. 100:1–3, 5; Rev. 7:9, 14b–17; John 10:27–30