6 and 7 May 2017 Fourth Sunday of Easter A Homily
Acts 2:14, 26-41
First Peter 2:20-25
My sisters and brothers in Christ.
This Sunday is sometimes called “Good Shepherd Sunday” because, in the Gospel Jesús describes the difference between “the shepherd of the sheep” and “the stranger” who turns out to be a “thief and robber”.
In the first reading Peter is asked “What are we to do in the face Jesús being made “Lord and Christ…?”
Peter’s answer is very simple: “Repent and be baptized…” In changing our hearts we are able to know forgiveness and receive the “promise made to us and to our children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call..”
It is important to note at this point the “Lord our God will call” whomever “the Lord our God” wishes.
We might wish to limit whom the Lord our God “calls” but “repent” or “undergoing a change of heart” implies seeing things and others in a new and different way.
The Second Letter of Peter describes Jesús’ response to insult and suffering:
“When he was insulted, he returned no insulted;
When he suffered he did not threaten;…..
By his wounds you have been healed.”
On this particular “Good Shepherd” Sunday we Catholics of Oklahoma have a particular and very personal as well as public reason to reflect upon the theme of the “Good Shepherd.
In September, at the Cox Convention Center there will be a special gathering of Catholics and others to Celebrate the “Beatification of Father Stanley Francisco Rother”.
Father Rother grew up in Okarche, Oklahoma, became a priest and spent a number of years in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala serving as a missionary.
Father Rother literally entered into the lives, culture and hearts of the people he shepherded.
Father Rother was no stranger and tried to protect his flock from the thieves and robbers who tried to harm his people.
Father Rother’s life was threatened because of his concern and advocacy for the safety and rights of his flock.
Father Rother was warned of the danger he faced and returned to Oklahoma for a few months in 1981.
Father Rother knew he was taking a great risk but returned to his Mission during Holy Week.
Father Rother’s explanation of his decision was this: “The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger.”
Father Rother was martyred in July of 1981 in the Rectory in Santiago Atitlan.
Father Rother was a good shepherd who led his sheep through the sheep gate that gives life.
A “good shepherd” we believe is one who gives his life for his sheep.
Father Rother was free enough, and faithful enough to lay down his life for his friends.
We are a privileged and blessed and “graced” people to have the life and martyrdom of Father Rother who “suffered for doing what is good” and experienced this “grace before God’ as a companion in our journey of faith.
We ask today for a share in that gift and grace given to the faithful shepherd soon to be “Blessed Stanley Francis Rother”.