April 25, 2023
This coming Sunday (the fourth of Easter) is traditionally called, by some Christians, “Good Shepherd Sunday”. The Risen Lord, in the Gospel of John (10:11,14), declares himself the Good Shepherd. But what exactly is Jesus revealing? Having little experience with shepherds and sheep, the analogy may seem distant and abstract for many of us.
Well, we at least know that a shepherd is a sort of care-taker. Jesus takes care of us. And the more caring, the “gooder”, the better! Indeed, Jesus goes to loving extremes in caring for us. As Saint John says (10,11), the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Now, ought not the Eucharist, a guaranteed encounter with Jesus, reveal to us something about Him as our Good Shepherd? I would venture to say “yes”. Indeed, listen to what Saint Peter Julian Eymard, a French Catholic priest, who died in 1868 (founder of two religious communities: the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament for men and the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament for women) says about Jesus in His care-taking:
Is not our Lord as meek and humble in the Blessed Sacrament as He was during His life on earth? Is He not always the Good Shepherd, the Divine Consoler, the Changeless Friend? Happy the soul that knows how to find Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, and in the Eucharist all things!
The relationship between sheep and the Good Shepherd is one of intimacy and safety. Let us rejoice in being sheep! Our Risen Lord knows where He is leading us: to verdant pastures, where He gives us repose for our souls. Let us follow in faith, hope and love…
Jesus is Alive
April 18, 2023
Happy Easter! The celebration continues—for an octave, for a season, for ever. Indeed, the mystery of the Resurrection is inexhaustible.
Allow me to share with you an excerpt from a sermon preached many, many years ago, by Saint Quodvultdeus, Bishop of Carthage in what is now Tunisia. He was a spiritual student and correspondent with Saint Augustine of Hippo, forced into exile near Naples by the Arian King Geneseric, where he died in 450.
Yours in our Risen Lord,
Corruption will no longer have dominion over us, as we live in immortality and dwell with Eternal Life Himself. Nor will we need clothing, for there we will be dressed in immortality; nor will we lack food when we have the Living Bread that came all the way from heaven to earth for us. For He will satisfy our souls with His presence. Nor, with the Fountain of Life present, will we lack drink. For He will satiate us with the abundance of His house, and He will provide water for our hearts with the torrents of His delights. We will not suffer from heat there, for our refreshment is there, the One who sheltered and shelters us under the shadow of His wings. We will not suffer from the cold there, for there is where the Sun of Justice is. He it is who warms our hearts with His love, and who give sight to our eyes with the rays of divinity, so that we will see the divinity and equality of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We will not get tired there, for our Strength will be with us, the One to whom we say, I love you, Lord, my strength (Psalm 18:2). We will not sleep there, for there is no darkness there that can blot out everlasting day. No commerce, no labor will be there. And what are we going to do there? Perhaps what it is written: Be still and see that I am the Lord (Psalm 46: 11). This leisure of contemplation itself will constitute our activity, so that we delight to contemplate and contemplate to see with delight. To see what? The good things of the Lord (Psalm 27:13). What good things? We will be able to express what neither eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor arises in the heart of man (Isaiah 64: 3.; I Corinthians 2:9). We will be able to explain how God will be all in all (I Corinthians 15:28).
Believing: More than Seeing
April 11, 2023
In this coming Sunday’s gospel of John (20:19-31), Jesus declares “Blessed are those
who have not seen and have come to believe.” What a strange declaration. Haven’t
we always been told that seeing is believing? And don’t we know from experience that
we are only really happy when we see for ourselves?
Happiness is indeed always linked to experience—most particularly the experience of
persons we love. And human experience does always entails seeing for ourselves, i.e.,
face-to-face, personal interaction. Jesus is telling us, however, that, when it comes to
Him, we can and will be happy even without seeing Him. How can this be? It’s called
faith! Faith is not simply a belief system about God. Faith opens us experientially to
God’s revealing of Self. Faith is a mysterious experience of God—without seeing a
thing… Strange indeed. Happy indeed. Our Risen Lord is alive and present and He
draws us to Himself.
Yours in Him,
THE REV. DOMINIQUE PERIDANS