Dear friends in Christ
The Church proclaims Christ as the Good Shepherd on this Sunday of Eastertide. It is one of the most ancient images we have of Jesus and one intimately associated with the Resurrection: the Risen Lord leads home to Heaven His chosen ones. This image is sung of in the twenty-third Psalm at this Sunday’s Mass: The Lord is my Shepherd….He leads me to green pastures…He has prepared a banquet for me. This celestial imagery reminds us also that God has not left us without guidance on earth. The Church, which governs in His name until the end of time, appoints shepherds to minster and guide us on earth. The Bishop and Priests of the Catholic Church are descended in a direct and unbroken line from Christ and the Apostles and therefore teach and minster in His Name. The Church asks us to pray for vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life on this Sunday, so that the flock of Christ on earth may never be without the necessary spiritual help on our way to eternal life.
The Pope, as the Chief Shepherd of the Church has a special place in the plan of salvation; not because of the person he is but because of the special gift he has been given to be the centre and focus of unity in Faith and Christian living. Last week Pope Francis published his long-awaited Apostolic Exhortation on Marriage and Family Life entitled Amoris Laetitia - The Joy of Love. It is the fruit of two special Synods which were held recently to discuss contemporary matters relating to Marriage. This document is particularly long but well-worth reading! I have included within this Newsletter an excellent summary/reflection by Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles which is helpful in understanding what the Pope is saying. Over the coming weeks I will further include Chapter summaries of this document for our consideration.
Please pray for the Shepherds of the Church that God has given us: the Holy Father, our Bishop and our priests who bring us the grace of God in the Sacraments. Thank you too, for the prayerful support you continue to offer. May the Church continue to be an ever-brighter beacon of hope and Truth in these times to all people of good will who are searching and striving to do God’s Will.
Msgr Kevin Hale