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The Good Shepherd: Weekly Message for 04-12-16
Dear Fellow Digital Pilgrim,
I have always loved the image of the good shepherd, carrying a lamb on his shoulders as he shepherds his flock. It’s an image that comes to mind now for two reasons. First, this coming Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday, as the Fourth Sunday of Easter always is. It is the day when all Catholics throughout the world pray in a special way for vocations to the priesthood, for God to call many young men to become living images of Christ the Good Shepherd by serving the Church and the world as priests.
But there is another reason too. I recently had an experience where I felt, in a symbolic sense, like I was carrying you just as the Good Shepherd carries the lamb.
Some of you know that I am spending this semester in Rome, Italy, teaching theology at my Order’s pontifical university here. Soon after I arrived, the community of professors that I live with took a mini-pilgrimage down to St. Peter’s Basilica. We concelebrated Mass early in the morning at the altar of St. Columbines (a great Irish missionary from the early Middle Ages), and then I was able to go through the Holy Door, which was opened by Pope Francis for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Going through the Holy Door symbolizes taking a significant step of faith from one threshold to another. And that is the desire of every pilgrim during this Jubilee: to take a step forward in our relationship with God, to leave behind whatever needs to be left behind and come closer to the fullness of life that Jesus is leading us to.
Before I stepped through the door, I recollected myself in prayer. And I placed in my heart every one of you, every single person who uses the material we distribute through this website, and every single person who contributes to our mission through sharing our materials, through their prayers, and through their generous donations. And as I walked through the Holy Door, I carried you along with me, asking the Lord to shower his graces upon you, to continue leading you forward along your pilgrimage of faith, to continue shepherding you as only He knows how to do.
So, I wish you a happy and holy Good Shepherd Sunday, and I am very glad that you are part of this digital flock.
God bless you!
Fr. John Bartunek, LC