Fourth Sunday of Easter

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday’s bulletin had some info about starting a “Parish Vocations Committee” (PVC) here at St. Matthias, led by our Pastoral Council. Today, the fourth Sunday, known also as Good Shepherd Sunday, is an auspicious day to inaugurate it. Today’s gospel is about Jesus the Good Shepherd.

The word ‘vocation’ (= calling) applies to all of us – no matter who we are: husbands or wives, religious men or women, priest or deacon, single person, young or old. The Church teaches us that the vocation of every Christian is to be holy. In Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and be Glad), Pope Francis reminds us that God calls all Christians to be saints — not statues of saints, but real people who make time for prayer and who show loving care for others in the simplest gestures. He wrote about “the saints next door” and said he likes “to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick….”

I wish all of us to grow more aware of our call to be holy, but we also need to be aware that we have a responsibility to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life. To this end, the PVC will create awareness through various means. I thank Joe Percoco and MaryBeth Vetter for agreeing to lead it and you will hear them this weekend and the next.

This past Thursday was Earth Day! It was on April 22, 1970, that 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife.

Though Earth Day is a popular secular observance, the Catholic Church brings a distinct perspective to the discussion of environmental questions, by lifting up the moral dimensions of these issues and the needs of the most vulnerable among us. This unique contribution is rooted in Catholic teaching calling us to care for the whole of creation and for “the least of these.” (Mt 25:40). The Catholic bishops’ pastoral statement on the environment, Renewing the Earth, is worth reading. The appeal of Pope Francis in Laudato Si (On Care for Our Common Home) is addressed to “every person living on this planet” for an inclusive dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. Parishes, dioceses and other Catholic organizations continue to discuss issues affecting the environment that is civil and constructive, that invokes the virtue of prudence in seeking solutions, and that is more responsive to the needs of the poor, both here in the United States and abroad.

Our St. Matthias community is very conscious of these and other social issues. We have a long-standing partnership with the Center for FaithJustice (CFJ) whose resource persons enrich our Confirmandi class through “Service WorX” each year. May Jesus the Good Shepherd help us to shepherd people and environment according to God’s plan in the Bible.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal