Richard S. Vosko

Musings on religion, art and architecture

5/15/11-Homily-What Do We Do Now?

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4 Easter A – May 15, 2011 – What Do We Do Now?

World Day of Vocations & International Conscientious Objectors Day

Acts 2:14a, 36-41, Psalm 23:1-3a,3b4,5,6, 1 Peter 2:20b-25, John 10:1-10

Complete New American Bible texts for today

Lance Armstrong was one of the greatest athletes ever to ride a bicycle. Leading his team to many victories, Armstrong once said, you do not have to be in front of the pack to be a good leader. Although the scriptures say so, experts tell us that shepherds do not walk in front of their flocks. Rather they walk behind or in the midst of the sheep, nudging them in the right direction, talking to them, keeping an eye on all of them. [1]

This morning all eyes are on our young sisters and brothers who are going to share in the Eucharistic banquet with us for the first time. In doing so they take another step in becoming active members in the church, the very body of Christ they are about to receive. Soon they will grow to take their place as leaders in our church.

A traditional interpretation of today’s readings suggests we are sheep. When we get disoriented and stray off course the good shepherd, Jesus Christ, leaves the flock to find us, calls out our names, and brings us back into the sheepfold — a euphemism for the word “church.”

In the gospel Jesus refers to himself not only as a shepherd but also a gateway. Guided by Christ, our goal is Christ. The mythologist Joseph Campbell described the doors to every sacred place as life changing portals. Once you pass through the threshold anything is possible on the other side: sickness gives way to health, loneliness finds companionship, yearnings are satisfied, even death is dispelled by eternal life. That is what we are, that is what we do. The people of God welcome and offer each other unthinkable possibilities, innumerable choices for living, all because of the presence of God in our midst.

In the first reading it sounds like Peter is blaming the sheep for turning against the shepherd, the very one sent by God to be the savior of all. [2] The disciples respond with a question that you and I could ask today. OK. What are we to do now? Peter replies. Immerse yourself in your faith, use the strength of your gifts and act in peaceful and humble ways to dispel all evil. Do we all have to do this?

Some writers think the second reading from Peter is a reference, however vague, only to the leaders, the shepherds, of the early church. It reminds them to be patient as they follow in the footsteps of Jesus. However, we know today that leadership in the church is intended to be far more collegial and not reserved to our clergy only. This is why the church calls women and men, who are not ordained, to be leaders. All baptized members are called to help one another advance the kin-dom of God on earth.

During this Easter season we ponder what it means to be members of God’s household. However, with due respect to the bible, we are not exactly like sheep. We can think responsibly, we can decide what to do and where to go in our lives. As Easter people we recall and recommit ourselves to the mission and message of Christ. We grow in our identity as shepherds in the world.

A good bicycle team works together. It is inspired by the desire and strength of the leader who in turn must rely on the team in order to win. What are we to do now? Help each other get to the finish line and through the golden gate.

___

1 Pilch, John. The Cultural World of Jesus, Sunday by Sunday, Cycle A (Collegeville: Liturgical Press) 1995, 76-78.

2 Reginald H. Fuller and Daniel Westberg. Preaching the Lectionary: The Word of God for the Church Today. Third Edition (Collegevile: Liturgical Press) 2006, 86-88

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Author: Richard S. Vosko

Richard S. Vosko, Ph.D., Hon. AIA, is an internationally known sacred space planner. He is a presbyter in the Diocese of Albany who enjoys the classroom as much as the pulpit. On Sundays he presides at worship at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Albany, NY. For more information on Vosko’s background, his projects, publications and speaking engagements please go to his website. For his homilies and occasional musings about religion, art and architecture go to his blog. Comments, questions and suggestions are always welcomed there.

One thought on “5/15/11-Homily-What Do We Do Now?

  1. What a lovely and thought provoking post. The image of shepherds, which were in many of our heads this week and in various forms, always invites us to challenge our assumptions. Now there’s an invitation, right? We are invited there – always!

    I guess one image that I held in prayer was one from the film “Of Gods and Men” (if you have not seen it, I can’t encourage you enough to do so.) There is a scene, near the end of the film, where the prior of the monastery, Christian, is seen walking with sheep. He is, like you remind us, in their very midst, simply with them. It is a beautiful image and it sprung to mind as I read your words.

    Like

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