The Catholic Defender: Lent Centers On Jesus As The Good Shepherd
Jesus was asked by his Apostles regarding a man born blind if this was because of his sin or his parents sin.
Jesus gives an incredible answer! He responds, “Neither he nor his parents sinned: it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him” (John 9:3).
Sometimes when I think of my problems and worries, I find that there are people with far worse crosses and challenges to endure.
I personally find it better when I help others than dwell to much on my own problems.
That is not always an easy thing because life can hit you where you live with a powerful impact. It can be life changing.
I’m looking at what Jesus is telling us through the man born blind, how many of us see our sufferings from the Lord’s perspective?
That these events might be a means God wishes to make himself visible through them.
I have known people to grow away from God in their casting of blame on God.
Jesus gives us another important message in speaking to the cured blind man, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind” (John 9:39).
If you think you see, Jesus challenges us saying to the Pharisees, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘we see,’ so your sin remains” (John 9:41).
This is why it is so important that we take self inventory often. We must be a humble follower of Christ.
Our boldness is in the Lord, not ourselves. Like the Blind Man, when we take the blinders off and the scales come off our eyes, like St. Paul, we can see.
Then Psalms 23 can take a new perspective: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me: you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name. Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and your staff give me courage. You set a table before me as my enemies watch; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.”
The Lord established the Church which gives us cleansing and healing.
Like the blind man who was able to see the Lord, we too can recognize the Lord in our lives and know he is with us. “May those who have eyes, see”!
“Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people: you have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds. I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from the lands to which I have driven them and bring them back to their meadow; there they shall increase and multiply. I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; and none shall be missing, says the Lord. Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; As KIng he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security. This is the name they give him: The Lord our Justice.”
“The Lord our justice” is Jesus Christ, he is the “righteous shoot to David”! Jesus appointed his apostles to lead his holy Catholic Church, to “shepherd” His people. Jesus himself gathered his Apostles to build the remnant of his people Israel and established the new and everlasting Covenant.
Pope Francis is the 266th successor of St. Peter and all the current bishops today are the true successors of the Apostles in an unbroken line of apostolic succession.
If there is a Catholic Priest or Bishop who is teaching contrary to Catholic Teaching, if they are teaching that you can be a good Catholic and openly dissent from official Catholic teaching, then I would say that such a Priest or Bishop have lost site of their first mission in serving Jesus Christ. Even though the above scripture applies to the Old Testament, it is certainly applicable here and now.
We need to pray for our Spiritual leaders, “Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfull their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).
St Paul wrote St. Timothy, “Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you” (1 Timothy 4:16).
St. Peter writes, “So I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed. Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:1-4).
St. Peter received this message from the Lord himself: “Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”
St. Peter was crucified upside down at Vatican Hill in 67 A.D. glorifying God through his martyrdom as Jesus had said.
When my Sons Nathan and Jason were still in their teens, Nathan would sometimes come up with some cool guitar licks just messing around.
He would go days playing it as he was really becoming a fine guitar player. I encouraged him to take this one sound he came up with and try placing the words of Psalms 23 with it.
What resulted would be one of my favorite songs we did as a group.
Jason is my little drummer boy, at 13-14 he became a leader of the band keeping us on track with his beat. I am so proud of all my children as they continue to do well.
Do you ever feel that you are alone, that you are on your own? Sometimes it feels that way doesn’t it, especially when you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. Proverbs 15:3 reminds us, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” We are not left as orphans and we are loved by God.
Psalms 121:5 really makes this point saying, “The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.” So, when we feel that the world is crashing down upon you, we are to be encouraged as we grow in God’s word.
Despite knowing that God is everywhere and that He knows your deepest darkest secrets, sometimes we do get caught up in what the world is selling. Sometimes we find ourselves swaying off onto another rabbit trail. Sometimes it takes real courage to make the effort to get back on the ship.
The Lord left Shepherds who are here to help guard the flock from ravenous wolves that try to entice you to follow their path of destruction. Acts 20:28 reminds the Shepherds to represent the Lord stating, ”Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of the LORD which he obtained with the blood of his own.”
Hebrews 13:17 speaks to the Laity stating, “Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
So as the Shepherds are suppose to guard the flock, the sheep are suppose to listen and follow. But sometimes this is not always black and white. Sometimes situations have happened, caused by sin, that has caused great spiritual harm. People have become disenfranchised and as a result have distanced themselves from the fold. Sometimes both Shepherd and flock are affected.
We know that the Lord will leave the 99 to go find the one who has gone astray (Matthew 18:12, Luke 15:4) because he loves them so much (John 3:16).
This is a real spiritual battle as souls are at stake, we are called to lead by example, to love even our enemy. To know that God is watching us, that He has not forsaken us gives us great hope. Psalms 39:7 states, “And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in thee.”
Our faith calls for us to trust in the Lord, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.” Proverbs 3:5
The Act of Faith, “O MY GOD, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in Three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I believe that Thy Divine Son became Man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.”
So we should place all our hope, faith, and trust in the Lord, centered for our love of God. The more we hold to the azimuth that gives us a straight line to God, the less we will be distracted by the call of the wild.
You have heard that much has been given so much is expected, we are called by God to help pick up the wounded and not leave them stranded leaving them on the bay-side. This is the challenge that we are to help those in need. Jesus said, “Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matthew 25:34-36)
Let us be encouraged in the knowledge the Lord is kind and merciful and omnipresent among us.
We are not left alone and he has the power to heal the broken heart, to give aid to those who mourn. Jesus is the true Physician.
God is watching you and He sees all, and knows all. He sees our short comings, and He sees the good that you do.
Mother Teresa once said, “God does not call us to be successful, He calls us to be faithful.”
Let us keep watch over our house so when the master comes, we will not be found asleep. God bless you all.
God is watching you!