Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 7, 2017 – Year A
Readings: Acts 2:14A, 36-41 / Ps 23 / 1 Pt 2:20B-25 / Jn 10:1-10
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
In the priests’ retreat I attended last week, the resident spiritual director and confessor was a priest in his late 80s, whom everybody called Monsignor John. Although he has been a priest for more than fifty-seven years, his zeal and enthusiasm for everything he is doing in his ministry is similar to that of a 25-year old, newly ordained priest.
Monsignor John’s presence in our group was truly life-giving. He walks a couple of miles every day, eats moderately, and prays continuously. When asked by one of the younger priests in our group about his secret for having been able to maintain not only his physical, but also his mental health all these years, his answer was pretty simple. He said that he sees to it that he is always living in the presence of Our Lord, the Good Shepherd. He communicates with Him through prayer all throughout the day and night.
In today’s gospel, Our Lord Jesus is telling us, the members of His flock, “I come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.” The life that He is talking about is not just the life here on Earth, but the life that will never end. It may be easy to hold onto our faith in Our Lord Jesus when everything is going well with our lives. But when life becomes challenging, faith in God sometimes flies out of the window unless it is grounded in prayer and putting into practice God’s commandments in our daily lives.
Before I left last week for the retreat, I visited Ray and Leslie, an elderly couple who are members of our sister parish, Resurrection. Leslie had been in hospice care for a few weeks; with her husband Ray holding her hands, I gave her the Last Sacrament. Even though they don’t have children, they are blessed to have faithful friends who have always been there for them, especially when they have been hospitalized and since they moved to the nursing home.
The other day, Ray and three of their friends, feeling that the end was near for Leslie, prayed the rosary and Chaplet overnight around her bed, because these are Ray and Leslie’s favorite prayers. After they prayed the Chaplet, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, while Ray was holding her hand, Leslie was born into life eternal.
So after the 5 PM Mass at Resurrection, I went to visit Ray at the nursing home to give him comfort and Holy Communion. With tears in his eyes, Ray told me that the love of his life, Leslie, went to meet Our Lord, the Good Shepherd, who led her safely home in peace, and that he could hardly wait to see her again in God’s eternal kingdom.
For Ray and Leslie, who are both in their mid 80s, to maintain this kind of relationship with each other for all these years, is surely an inspiration for all the people around them. Their secret, aside from spending a lot of time with each other, is that they prayed together as often as they could.
It is indeed true, as Father Patrick Peyton used to say, that the family that prays together stays together. And what will continue to strengthen the bond of love in the family and in the community is the presence of Our Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd in our midst, for He is the source of love and life. As He promised, He will give us life in all its fullness, not only in this world, but in the life that will never end, in the eternal dwelling of our Father in heaven.