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Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Sermon Notes: Good Shepherd Sunday

Recently, I've started writing down bits of Scripture from my Missal during Mass, as well as notes on our parish priest's sermon. I thought it might be interesting to start posting these notes on the blog. Let me know if you want me to continue. :)

COLLECT: O God, Who by the humility of Thy Son has lifted up a fallen world, grant that to those whom Thou hast delivered from the misfortunes of eternal death, Thou mayest insure everlasting happiness. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

"And other sheep I have that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd."

The Good Shepherd is not just a caretaker of sheep, like the hireling. He is also the guardian of our souls. He looks over us in both body and soul. In the epistle, it says Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example. Are we supposed to follow this example? Yes, it is part of our calling. To not do so is to deny the Shepherd Who held nothing back. Do we have to suffer? An unambiguous yes! In Genesis 3:16, God said that He will 'multiply our sorrows'. He imposed death and suffering on us because of Original Sin.

In the early days of the Church, Manichaeans and others like them denied Original Sin - so it has been throughout the ages, and even today. But denial cannot remove this part of our fallen nature. The teaching of the Church says that by Original Sin, we lose the gift of integrity. We become subject to concupiscence, suffering, and death. Even after baptism, we are still subject to these three things - but not as a punishment. Instead, it is a means for our sanctification. This wounding of our nature is not an utter corruption, as Luther saw it. But neither are we all good. In a certain high school, our parish priest heard a religion teacher telling his students that they are good and that they don't have to go to Confession if they feel good about themselves. But this also is a very wrong approach.

We have two different wounds because of Original Sin. One is physical wounds - like death. Then there are four wounds to the soul that correspond to the four cardinal virtues lost by sin. First, there is ignorance, the difficulty in knowing truth; it is the opposite of prudence, the ability to judge carefully. Then there is malice, a weakening of the power of the will; it is the opposite of justice. Weakness, a recoiling before difficulties, is the opposite of fortitude, and desire/concupiscence, the satisfaction of the senses against reason, is the opposite of temperance.

With this knowledge of how we are wounded, we see that we must suffer. The question is how we will suffer. If we accept it, we gain from it. "Christ has suffered for us, leaving us an example that we may follow in HIs steps. He who did know sin, no deceit was found in his mouth" (prudence). "He was reviled and He did not revile back against those who reviled against Him" (fortitude). "He suffered" (justice). "He did not threaten" (temperance).

An act of love was the reason that Jesus died for us. In baptism, we gain these cardinal virtues which we can use on our struggle. However, we must remember that we are born sheep. Anyone who has worked with sheep knows that they are very dumb. And so we sheep need a Shepherd. Our Shepherd loves us - He laid down His life for us. We must love Him back.

~~~~~ "I am the good shepherd; and I know Mine, and Mine know Me." ~~~~~

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