Celebrant: We have received the gift of faith through baptism. Let us nurture this gift with prayer as we bring our needs before our generous and loving God.
That the Church may always remain a steadfast symbol of God's light to humanity and his continued love for the world, we pray to the Lord...That the Church be blessed with many vocations after the model of Christ the Good Shepherd, we pray to the Lord...That teachers and nurses may turn to God and seek his guidance and grace as they serve the needs of their people, we pray to the Lord...That in the saving power of Jesus' Name, the hungry may be satisfied, the stranger may be welcomed, and the unborn may be protected, we pray to the Lord...That each of may truly live in the Easter spirit and be grateful for the new life given to us through Jesus' death and resurrection, we pray to the Lord...That the faithful departed may rest for all eternity in the loving embrace of the Lord, we pray to the Lord...
God our Father, you care for us with your compassion. Answer our prayers, grant us your grace, and keep us close to the true Shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Laying down our lives
The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. This theme is found also in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) On the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, a man fell in with robbers. A priest and a Levite came by, but did not stop to help. Despite their knowledge of the Law and Prophets, they walked right by. Why?
One of the reasons may be that they were afraid. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho is a dangerous road. Because of its numerous steep curves, it lends itself to attacks by robbers who can easily hide not too far from their victims. Perhaps the priests and Levites who passed by that man asked themselves, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me? Maybe the robbers who attacked him are still here. Maybe they're hiding just around the bend. This is a dangerous road. I better keep going."
Sometimes we ask the same question. If, for example, I speak up too loudly about the victims of abortion, what will happen to me? Will I face persecution, will I encounter opposition, will I lose popularity if I get involved in a cause like this?
And then the Good Samaritan came along, and he reversed the question. He didn't ask, "If I help this man, what will happen to me?" The Good Samaritan asked, "If I do not help this man, what will happen to him?" And that's the question for us. If I do not address this evil, what will happen to the unborn? If I do not get involved, what will happen to those who are vulnerable, to those who are marginalized our society, those who are oppressed, those who have no one to speak for them?
Acts 4:8-121 Jn 3:1-2Jn 10:11-18
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The reflection in the suggested bulletin insert (above) expands upon the theme of the Good Shepherd who does not run away when the sheep are to be devoured, but rather lays down his own life for them. The love by which the Shepherd does that is precisely the “power” to which Jesus refers when he says he has the “power” to lay down his life.
What a difference between this Divine idea of “power” and the worldly concept that says “power” consists in being able to lay down someone else’s life. In particular, the Culture of Death says that there is some kind of “power” in the “right to choose” abortion, or in the right “to determine the timing and manner of one’s death” by euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. But that is not power at all.
The real power spoken about in today’s readings is the power to give ourselves away in love, to transform suffering into life-giving sacrifice (that heals others and brings salvation, as the First Reading indicates), and to ultimately be transformed into the likeness of the God who is love (Second Reading).