From our pastor, Father Neil Herlihy
As we know all too well, our culture in many ways, at times, acts like a thief. It may steal innocence from our youth. It may corrupt the morals of adults. It may encourage illegal drug use, materialism, and the excesses of the good life. It may encourage us to cut corners in our marriages and on our taxes. It may steal our zeal and spirit to do the rights things.
As disciples, we are challenged to oppose the pervasive forces of our culture. Recently, certain of our scripture readings have focused on Jesus, the Good Shepherd. We are invited to listen to his voice and turn to him. He will shepherd us away from the values and priorities of the world. He does not steal life but rather gives life, and he gives it abundantly.
One of our prominent Catholic authors reminds us that just as sheep recognize the shepherd’s voice, so we know the voice of Jesus when he calls us. This is the voice that we encounter in the Eucharist and in the other sacraments. This is the voice that causes us to have a love that binds us to him and to each other. This is the voice that encourages us to promote the value of all human life from conception to natural death. This is the voice that encourages us to promote the dignity of the marriage bond. This is the voice that encourages us to reflect a love of country and love of family in our lives.
Two men who clearly listened to the voice of the Good Shepherd were Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II who were canonized as saints of our Church just a few weeks ago. Pope John XXIII played a key role in implementing the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960’s, which reformed and modernized the Church in many ways. Pope John Paul II played a key role in bringing about the fall of Communism in Europe and in successfully engaging the secular world in the arena of ideas. Pope Francis called them “men of courage” who share a place in history.
A recent news report, commenting on their canonization, stated that “…the event was beamed around the world” and “that leaders and dignitaries from more than 90 countries joined the throng of Catholics.” This extraordinary event was certainly exciting for our Church. As we reflect on the lives of these two saints, we are challenged to engage our culture in the arena of ideas and reaffirm our commitment to follow the voice of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, as we continue on our own journey of faith, a journey that will hopefully lead us to our eternal glory.