Jesus Our Shepherd

Homily for 02 April 2006
Fr. Bob Scanlan

Following our Lenten theme of beginning anew with our life, we hear the Prophet Jeremiah once again telling the Israelite People to begin over again in the life long process of reforming their lives. Only this time Jeremiah tries to move the people from following the letter of the law. His experience was simply that always following the letter of the law did not always have the desired affect in their lives. I am wondering if many of us have also experienced that reality in our life. Has always following the letter of the law gotten you what you had hoped? Have you come closer to God?

One definition of insanity is: “Doing the same thing you have always done in the same way and expecting different results”. When I was in the seminary we had a conference with the Spiritual Director every night before dinner. I remember one of his comments on following the letter of the law. He told us, “You can be 100% right and be totally wrong”. My life’s experience has taught me that I do not have to be 100% right all the time. Life is far too short to be concerned with always being right in following others preconceived laws from a different age and time. However I do need to be 100% right in following the Gospel message of Jesus & that is where I fail.

Jeremiah tells the people what God had revealed to him: “I will place my law within them & write it upon their HEARTS. I will be their God and they will be my people.” “From the least to the greatest shall know me.”

When you KNOW God, your relationship is built within your heart. I do not believe anyone here, when confronted with a decision to be made, needs to consult a book to determine what another person may have said about the pending decision you need to make. In your HEART you KNOW what you need to do. Our human condition, as has been true for thousands of years, gets in the way of making the right decision. We are human and at times wrong.

When Cardinal Bernardin died many reflected on his life and ministry. Eugene Kennedy, a married priest and current author and Professor at Loyola University in Chicago was Cardinal Bernardin’s confidant in his last days. Msgr. Ken Velo was Cardinal Bernardin’s secretary and was with him all the time. Cardinal Bernardin established the organization he called “Common Ground”---to try to bring various groups in the church together to seek common ground. At his funeral Msgr. Velo said, “Didn’t he lead us, didn’t he show us the way?”

There are special people who come into our life. There are people who seem to stand head and shoulders above others---while not intending to do so nor even being aware they are doing it. My father died 9 years ago on Good Friday. He was one of those people. He was born in 1899 and was 98 when he died. Our bishop presided at both my parent’s funerals. At his funeral I used the comment, “Didn’t he lead us, didn’t he show us the way?” The “law of God” was written in his heart. Everyone knew that about him. At 92 he was still delivering meals on wheels to the elderly. Dad died at 98 but never got old.

The grain of wheat must die before it can produce wheat. The grain of wheat must undergo a transformation. If it does not undergo a transformation it will remain a grain of wheat. It is that time of year when we experience the miracle of the transformation of life going on all around us. The ground is breaking open as the new shoots of life begin to emerge before our very eyes. Jesus knew his hour had come for him to complete his ministry with us on earth and to show us once again that it was true then as it is true now. We each must be transformed; die to ourselves; lead by not only word but example; become what we were meant to become; put our old selves behind us and take on the new look of a person who has the law of God written in your heart; become unshackled from the old restrictive laws and celebrate the freedom to live as a daughter or son of God; to take the personal responsibility to “do the right thing”; to realize that you do not always have to be 100% right according to the law but be right according to the Gospel of Jesus; be the leader Jesus has called you to be!!!

This morning Adam and Natasha Moe bring their infant son, Jaxson to this community for Baptism. Jaxson, their son, was born February 16, 2006. We here today celebrate with you the ultimate gift from God—the gift of human life. Yes, he will sleep through the night; in fact in 15 short years you probably will not be able to get him out of bed! You will spend the next 20 or years seeing who he is and what God has perhaps called him to be. Being a parent of 2 children, I can tell you there is nothing more challenging or rewarding than to be entrusted with the care of God’s creation. From the moment of conception, you will never not be a parent.

Come forward now with Jaxzon and his godparents: Dale Becker, Chrissy Klumpp, and Chad Grissman to have Jaxzon baptized.