Sunday, July 19, 2015

Good shepherds, good sheep (Sunday homily)

The readings give us a chance to reflect 
on what it means to be a shepherd.

As Catholics, we have four shepherds. 
Each parish has a pastor; our diocese has a bishop, 
and over the worldwide Church, we have Pope Francis. 
And over all that, of course, is the Lord himself. 

A lot of folks think this was a human scheme, but that’s not true. 
It was Jesus himself who chose Peter and the Apostles; 
and both Scripture and Tradition tell us that it was the Apostles 
who began appointing bishops, priests and deacons 
everywhere they went. 

Being a bishop, let alone pope, is a tough job – 
the world is full of people 
who are sure they know how they should do their job.

And sometimes am I one of them! I’ve got my suggestions. 
The pope hasn’t called yet, but if he ever does…! 
I do occasionally send the Archbishop a letter. 
He always replies politely. Once in a while, he likes my idea.

Quoting again from Canon Law, it says this about the bishops: 
“Bishops, who by divine institution succeed to the place of the Apostles 
through the Holy Spirit who has been given to them, 
are constituted pastors in the Church, 
so that they are teachers of doctrine, 
priests of sacred worship, and ministers of governance” (375).

Let’s look closer at those three tasks. 
Archbishop Schnurr is a “teacher of doctrine.” 
This is why he issued a statement recently 
about the Supreme Court decision on marriage. 
And you may remember when he took the step last year 
to spell out in more detail 
what was expected of teachers in Catholic schools. 

He is also a “priest of sacred worship.” 
While you don’t hear about this often, 
I know from direct experience 
how has given support to better practices, 
and given correction as necessary. 

And, third, he is a “minister of governance.” 
This may be where bishops take the most criticism. 

A lot of what the Archdiocese does is invisible to most of us. 
Sometimes it seems bureaucratic and tedious—and, it is. 
But it’s the same for me in this parish. 
I sit at my desk for hours every week. 
It calls to mind when I was a boy, seeing my father, 
sitting at his desk most evenings. 
He was keeping the books of his business; 
he was paying bills; he was managing the household. 

So, for example, 
Archbishop Schnurr has launched a “One Faith” initiative 
to generate increased support 
for several of the ministries of the Archdiocese. 
Every parish is being asked to take part, including us. 
You’ll be reading and hearing about this over the next few weeks. 

At some point, someone may ask you to help as a volunteer, 
you’ll be given a chance to hear the details of what the needs are; 
and then eventually, everyone will be asked 
to contribute as best you can. 
This isn’t the most popular thing the Archbishop does, 
but it is part of his responsibility as a father and a shepherd.

With all this reflection on what a shepherd does, 
we might pause to consider what the flock is supposed to do. 
How can we help our shepherds?

Well, you have certainly helped me. 
In my year here, I’ve been so happy, in great measure, 
because of how committed you are to our parish and our Faith. 
Thank you. 

And while I know you don’t hear it from the Archbishop that often, 
he has told me that he appreciates this parish, 
and this part of the diocese. 
He grew up in a farming community, 
and he loves to come up north when he can. 

The shepherd leads, and the flock follows. 
It’s not easy for him; and often, we don’t always understand. 
We might ask the Holy Spirit both to help our pope and bishops 
to live up to their calling; 
and to help us to be the ready helpers they need.

1 comment:

rcg said...

I am very grateful for Archbishop Scnurr. He has discreetly supported traditional Masses and parishes, such as yours, that are expanding the prayers to include the older form. That is important to have his support.