Bottom line: As Lucy says, It's you, Aslan. It's about Jesus. Today he tells us: "My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life."
Happy Mother's Day! At the end of Mass I will have a blessing for moms. It will follow the blessing for those with anniversary of matrimony during May.
I want to put this in the context of this year's Easter theme, that is, Jesus' two-step program. The first step, you remember, is to believe - trust Jesus. Then the second step, touch his body, his wounded body, the Church.
The act of trust brings great benefit, as we saw last Sunday. After a frustrating night of hard work, the disciples hear Jesus voice. Although they were ready to wrap things up and get some rest, they cast their net and make an enormous catch. Best of all, when they come ashore, Jesus prepares a wonderful breakfast for them. When we believe, when we trust Jesus, good things happens.
Today we see that the act of trust involves hearing Jesus' voice in a particular way. We are like those sheep whose ears perk up when they hear the shepherd's voice. Just so, says Jesus, he knows you and me. He says we will follow him and receive eternal life.
What does this mean? To me the Narnia stories beautifully illustrate what it means to know Jesus and in him to have eternal life. One of my favorite scenes is at the end of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The children have an amazing adventure and at certain points they realize how Aslan (the lion who represents Jesus) comes to their aid. Now the adventure reaches its end and the children must return to England. Aslan tells the two older children - Edmund and Lucy - that they will not return to Narnia. They become sad and Aslan tries to comfort them. Lucy begins to sob. "It isn't Narnia, you know," she says. "It's you, (Aslan)".
Yes. In Narnia, it's about Aslan. For us it's about Jesus. Jesus says, "I give them eternal life". Eternal life, heaven, doesn't mean sitting on a cloud playing a harp or even having some kind of party with friends or going to some beautiful place like Narnia. In reality, eternal life is nothing more - and nothing less - that knowing Jesus and being known by him. That's why Jesus says, "I know them and they follow me. And I give them eternal life." As Lucy says: It isn't Narnia, you know. It's you, Aslan.
So again, the first step is faith, trusting in Jesus, knowing him The second step is contained in the first. "I know them and they follow me." In following Jesus we become members of his flock, his Church. We see this in our parish mission. Last week I quoted the opening line, "Blessed to live in this beautiful valley, we are Christian in union with Pope Francis and Archbishop Sartain". The concluding line then lays out our three tasks "lift up Jesus, love one another and make disciples."
Jesus wants us to become disciple makers - to bring people to him and his Church. That's a big challenge, especially today. So many of our children have left the Church. They have become what sociologists call "nones". Not "nuns" like Sister Barbara or Mother Carmen, but n-o-n-e-s. When they ask "what is your religion" many respond "none".
There are many reasons why people become nones. We share some blame when we fail to give a good example. The example has sometimes been horrible, for instance clergy abuse. On top of that we face a hostile culture that loves to portray Christians negatively. Our culture often undermines faith, for example, by asserting that science disproves God's existence. It does not. I'll say more in future homilies about how, although we cannot prove God's existence, we have evidence - good reason to believe in him.
The Bible identifies three forces against us: the world (that is, a corrupt culture), the flesh (our inner weakness) and the devil. Those forces make people flee from God. We, however, want to fight back. With Jesus help we will fight back. Mothers are fighters. If I ran into a bear I would pray it's not a mama bear with her cubs. Mothers are fighters but they do need us men.
None of us can fight alone. We must unite with Jesus and with each other - become full members of his flock with Jesus as our Shepherd. As Lucy says, It's you, Aslan. It's about Jesus. Today he tells us: "My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life." Amen.
Audio Homily (Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C): 2016 (Homily followed by report on lighting upgrade)
From Archives (Fourth Sunday of Easter, Cycle C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Ordinary Time leading up to Lent*
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru