About a week ago I was in Yellowstone National Park. We were stopped in traffic for about 20 minutes. Growing curious of what was going on, I got out to see what was the hold-up. It was a young buffalo that had been hit by a car. A team of people had to euthanize it and hoist it into the bed of a pick-up truck.
This really ties to our first reading from Jeremiah. If there had been a shepherd there, that buffalo would have been safe. Jeremiah is speaking of false shepherds, those who don’t take care of the Lord’s people. Jeremiah goes on to say that the Lord is the Good Shepherd, and he will appoint other good shepherds to lead us.
In our Gospel, our Lord has appointed those good shepherds; his apostles. The sheep begin to follow. There is a reason the bishop’s crozier is curved. It is to remind us that he is the successor of the apostles, the good shepherds. We are the sheep. We all need guidance. We must unite as a flock under the good shepherds, and flock towards the kingdom of God.
Today’s Gospel according to Saint Matthew tells us,“Many people followed [Jesus], and he cured them all, but he warned them not to make him known.” Just as Saint Nicholas gave gifts to the poor in secret, I encourage all to do the same. I understand putting your name on the donations for the Church to receive tax deductions, but try to keep some acts of kindness secret. Matthew 6:3-4 says,“But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” Our Lord will reward every good action, whether or not others see. Give in secret, you will be rewarded in Heaven.
Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Apollinaris, a bishop and martyr. He was sent by Peter to be the first bishop of Ravenna, Italy. He preached the Gospel so well that he infuriated the pagans, leading them to beat and exile him. But he returned. Not once, not twice, but three times. Every time he returned, the pagans beat him and sent him away. The last time he returned, he was martyred. May the Lord give us courage to do what must be done in the face of evil.
In our Gospel according to Matthew today, our Lord tells us,“for I am meek and humble of heart”. This reminds me of one of my favorite popes, Pope John Paul I. One of the more obscure popes of modern time, he reigned for only 33 days. His papacy was overshadowed by those of of John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II. This reading reminds me of His Holiness, because as bishop his motto for his coat of arms was one word. Humility. Humility is something that is hard for some, yet easy for others. Only through realizing God’s true love, may we adopt real humility. When realizing that we are nothing without God, is when He does the most with our lives. Pope John Paul I never wanted to be pope, he thought it should have been someone else, but through his humility the Holy Spirit called him to the Chair of Saint Peter. Through our humility, God will also do great things with us.
Today, what really spoke to me was the responsorial psalm. It says,“The Lord will not abandon his people.” Now, I’ve never been much of a pet owner, except for a few fish, but if you own a dog or cat and it runs away, most owners will try to go find it. I’ve never really felt this emotion with my previous fish, although I have had a few jump out of the tank. I assume that it must be very saddening to lose something that is such a big part of your life, just as Mary and Joseph must have felt when they lost Jesus, just hopefully on a much lesser scale. If you lose you pet, you look for it; even though it was your pet’s choice to run away. If we find our pet, we pick it up and bring it home; not the pet’s choice. Our Lord feels the same way as us when someone falls away from the Church. The only difference is that he can’t just bring people back, it is their free will. We must be God’s earthly hands, evangelizing those who have fallen away. We must guide them and bring them back to the Church. It is our job and we must fulfill it.
Today in our first reading from Isaiah our Lord says,“Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm!” We all know a tree without roots will not stand in the face of a storm. So will it be with us, if we do not have our roots in faith. Faith also provides our roots with nutrients that allows our trunk and branches to grow. And with those branches we can reach out to help others, as a tree gives shelter to the birds. Faith is our soil and we must keep ourselves planted in it!
Today is the memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. There are two great things that come from this apparition.
1. Devotion to her and the saints.
Just as with her apparition to Saint Dominic, giving him the Rosary, she gave Saint Simon Stock the brown scapular. Both of these items are meant to foster devotion towards Blessed Mother, but also show importance to devotion of other saints. I challenge everyone pray for the intercession of three people. 1. Blessed Mother, the greatest of all saints. 2. Any saint of your choice. 3. Someone who is declared Venerable or Blessed, for their possible future canonization. Such as Bl. Fr. Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, Bl. Marie of the Sacred Heart, or mine, Ven. Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
2. The Carmelite Nuns
Now, there are Carmelite Friars, but I want to focus on the nuns. When I got the pleasure to visit Bishop Simon Bruté Seminar, the former Carmelite convent, I got to hear a lot about the nuns that used to live there. They were cloistered, isolating themselves from the world to pray for the intentions of all of us. Many blessings have come from their prayers. Please pray for them as vocations to their order are declining.