The image of the shepherd appears in both the Gospel and First Reading today. It is clearly an ancient image which God has used to speak of his relationship to us: He cares for us. Through the prophet Jeremiah God reassures a people who had been misled, who did not remain faithful to the covenant and who had been exiled, that he would restore them to friendship, bring them home and care for them. What he did for the Jews in the sixth century before Christ in a geopolitical sense, he did for the entire world in the spiritual sense in the person of Jesus Christ: he redeemed humanity by Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross. The pity or compassion that Jesus showed to the crowds in today’s gospel who hungered for his word, “like sheep without a shepherd,” was a prelude for the greatest gift the Good Shepherd would give to his flock: “A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
The passage from Saint Paul in today’s Second Reading sums this all up. The blood of Christ, shed on the cross, has broken down the wall of enmity between humanity and God, and has established peace, reconciling us to God. There is the heart of the Christian gospel. This is the mystery the Church proclaims and celebrates in the sacraments. If only we could fully appreciate this gift! If only we could live as a people redeemed, reconciled and at peace with God and one another! For this we pray today: “Show favor, O Lord, to your servants and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace, that, made fervent in faith, hope and charity, they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands.” (Today’s Opening Prayer)
This Sunday we have the opportunity to enjoy St. Peter’s Shin-Dig, beginning with Mass at 10:00 AM. A lot of planning and work goes into making this happen. Thanks to all who work so hard to make it happen and to all who come to enjoy the fruit of their labor. The parish-festival season has begun.
Thanks to all who contributed to this year’s Diocesan Annual Appeal. Because of some last-minute gifts, both parishes surpassed their targets: St. Charles by $4,521.16 and St. Peter by $895.00. The overage comes back to each parish and is exempt from assessments. Reaching our targets also makes us qualified for some diocesan grants or loans, if needed. Despite the challenges of the past year, both parishes finished the fiscal year in good shape, with no outstanding bills. Thank you for your support in so many ways.
I plan to continue my vacation at the home farm this week. So far I did some mowing, baled about 40 small square bales of hay, visited some relatives, and lined up some oats for threshing. They are not yet ready for cutting, but probably will be by the end of the month. After standing in the shock for a couple of weeks, they will be loaded up and kept under cover with the hope of threshing on Labor Day, September 6. It has been two years since the last threshing event and a lot of people have asked whether I am still planning on doing it. I am! God willing we will have the weather and help necessary to do this with no mechanical breakdowns.
Pray the Rosary this week for the bishop, priests and deacons who shepherd the Church in our diocese. Pray for our seminarians and for all young men and women discerning their vocation in the Church, that they may respond to God’s will as generously and faithfully as possible. Pray for people in our country who are suffering devastation due to wildfires or floods, and the building collapse in Florida; and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.