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Sunday Readings for May 15, 2011 (4EasterA)
By Fr. Phil Bloom
Bottom line: Open the door of your heart to Jesus, that is: Repent, receive the sacraments and put yourself at the service of others.
Today Jesus - the Good Shepherd - speaks about entrance ways: gates, doors. I will be asking you to open the door of your heart to Jesus - and in doing so, to support of chief shepherd in Western Washington: Archbishop Sartain. And I also ask you to support me as your pastor - and the work of our parish.
I'd like to begin with a humorous story. Once a child came up to me after Mass. "When I grow up, Father," he said, "I am going to give you some money."
I was charmed so I asked him why he wanted to do that. "Well," he replied, "My dad says you are one of the poorest preachers we have ever had!"
How poor a preacher I am I will let you judge, but I do need your support - as does Archbishop Sartain. (He is a wonderful preacher by the way.)
In asking for this support, I would to put it in the context of our readings. In the Gospel Jesus speaks about gates or doors. It might seem obvious but there is a big difference between entering through the door and climbing over the fence. One we generally welcome; the other might make us dail 911.
Jesus tells that it matters how we enter. Come in through the door. Then he takes the image a step further: He himself is the door. "Whoever enters through me," he says, "will be saved."
This saying brings to mind the words Blessed John Paul spoke when he began his amazing pontificate. Addressing the throng in St. Peter's Square and beyond them, a waiting world, he said: "Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ."
Today's readings invite us to open the door of our heart to Jesus - and to recognize him as the gateway to salvation.
St. Peter - who was the first pope - made a similar invitation. He told the people that even though they had crucified by their sins, He now lives. When the people heard it, they "cut to the heart." They asked Peter what they should do. Two things, Peter tells them: Repent and be baptized. Turn away from sin and receive the sacraments, beginning with baptism.
The Catholic Church exists for that purpose. With all our own sins ands flaws, we do not stop inviting people to conversion - and to the new life of the sacraments. The connection to the supporting Archbishop Sartain and the Annual Catholic Appeal should be evident. If you look at where Annual Catholic Appeal funds go, you see things like religious education, faith formation, training of seminarians, deacons and others who serve in the Church.
There is something more. In our second reading - which is a letter from St. Peter - he encourages us to accept suffering to do what is good. Repentance and baptism lead to service.
Archbishop Sartain wrote to his priests about that. He reminded us that on Holy Thursday we washed people's feet. As followers of Jesus, he said, we have "seek out feet to be washed." Then he gave this explanation:
To be sensitively on the lookout for the troubles of others, to tend to them quietly without pointing them out or belaboring them, to share with the poor without exposing them to public scrutiny, to remove the embarrassment of others by acts of warmth and kindness - to seek out feet to wash: That is how we respect the God-given dignity of others. That is how we exalt them by becoming small ourselves.
The Annual Catholic Appeal is the way we wash the feet of others. We do it through a variety of agencies that Archbishop Sartain supervises. Some are pastoral, some are educational, some reach out to the needy. All of them respresent us as Catholics in Western Washington. I will explain to you the mechanics of the Appeal in a moment, but first I would like to state the "bottom line" of this homily:
Open the door of your heart to Jesus, that is: Repent, receive the sacraments and put yourself at the service of others.