The Most Sacred Heart of JesusC

Daily Gospel

The Most Sacred Heart of JesusC

Sacred Heart of Jesus YearC

Readings: Eze 34:11-16; Rom 5:5-11; Lk 15:3-7.

 

1/ Reading I: RSV Ezekiel 34:11 "For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the fountains, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and upon the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on fat pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will watch over; I will feed them in justice.

 

2/ Reading II: RSV Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. 6 While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man -- though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. 8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation.

 

3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 15:3 So he told them this parable: 4 "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.


I. THEME: God’s immense love for human beings

 

            The image of a shepherd and his sheep is one of images, used by Scriptural authors to express God’s love for human beings. In the Gospel according to John, Jesus used this image in chapter ten. He said that he is the door to the sheepfold which all true shepherds must enter and go out. He is also the Good Shepherd because he knows his sheep and cares for each one. The special character which no shepherd has is that he is ready to sacrifice his own life to protect his sheep. Christ did sacrifice his body to protect his flock.

            All the readings of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart remind God’s immense love for us and encourage us to properly respond for this love. In the first reading, when God sees His flock scattered as sheep without a shepherd, He decides that He Himself shall come to take care of His flock. He shall care for each one and gather all of them into the one flock. In the second reading, St. Paul highlights God’s love through the event which Jesus died for human beings when they are still sinners, to reconcile them with God and to bring salvation for them. In the Gospel, God’s love for people isn’t collective but individual. God Himself shall look for each lost sheep and joyfully celebrate when He finds each one.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The Lord worries when He sees His sheep being scattered everywhere.

1.1/ The situation and the fate of the flock before the Messiah comes.

            Reviewing of His flock in the hand of the Israel’s leader after nearly two thousand years, the Lord recognizes the following things.

            (1) The leaders’ imperfections:

            - The Israel’s kings and leaders didn’t concern for the fate of their flock. There were some good shepherds; but most of them only concerned for their needs.

            - The spiritual leaders didn’t educate the flock according to God’s way; therefore, their flock easily follows worldly temptations.

            - The Israel’s kings heard their foreign wives to establish altars for their foreign gods and to force the flock to do the same. They also persecuted and kill true shepherds which are prophets, sent by God.

            (2) The flock’s sufferings

           - Since the sheep was not educated according to God’s way, they no longer recognized God is their true God. They live either by the false teaching or by their own reasoning.

            - The flock were scattered around on exiles, maltreated and suffered in the foreign lands.

            - The sheep became good baits for kings, thieves, robbers and wild animals.

1.2/ God’s plan of gathering the flock

            Facing all these dangers for the flock, the Lord has a plan to change and to save His flock as the prophet Ezekiel outlined the changes as follow:

            (1) The Lord Himself shall seek out His flock and gather them into one flock: The prophet Ezekiel said, “For thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land.”

            (2) The Lord Himself shall take care of His flock: The prophet continued, “I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the fountains, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and upon the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on fat pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God.”

            (3) The Lord Himself shall care for each sheep: Leaders in the past paid attention to the group, but the Lord’s way shall pay attention to each sheep, “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will watch over; I will feed them in justice.” Only by this way, the flock shall be healthy and avoid all dangers. This Good Shepherd is Christ of the New Testament.

 

2/ Reading II: “God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

 

2.1/ Christ died for us when we are still sinners.

            The quality that separates Christ, the Good Shepherd, with other shepherds is that he loves all the sheep, not only the good and the healthy. St. Paul had his experience about Christ’s love for him on the way to Damascus, so he confirmed that Christ died for us when we are still sinners, “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man -- though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

           

2.2/ Christ reconciled people with God.

            When people sinned, they can’t reconcile with God or become righteous. This is the reason for Jesus’ coming into the world. He incarnated to have a human body, and with this body he can be died to take away people’s sins. Once he takes away of their sins, they can be reconciled with God. This is the only reason for people to become righteous. Leaving to people’s effort, they can’t become righteous before all of them sinned.

            Christ takes away not only our sins, but he also gives us his Holy Spirit, the principle of life for people. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can live a life as God’s children and become perfect as He is the perfect One.

3/ Gospel: “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.”

3.1/ A strange parable: Jesus told them this parable:"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”

            (1) People’s reaction: There are many reasons for people not to seek for the lost sheep.

            - No one shall do that!

            - If I go out to look for the lost sheep, who shall take care of the remaining ninety-nine ones?

            - There should be no worry of one lost sheep because there shall be more sheep from the flock!

            - Statistically, ninety-nine percent is a very good result; why should one be worried of the lost sheep?

            (2) Jesus’ intention: He wanted them to carefully think about it before he leads them to the fact which they can’t avoid.

            - If Jesus replaces the word “sheep” with “child,” the audience shall be more careful to answer his question. For example, “What man of you, having ten children, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the nine children at home, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?” According to Luke’s presentation, this is the first of three continuing parables to emphasize on God’s love and compassion; the other two are “the woman who lost one of her ten coins” and the wonderful parable of “the Prodigal Son,” or it should be called “the Wonderful Father.”

            - All children should be equally treated. Parents should love and care more for their sick children because they need more attention.

            - People should go out to look for the lost child because he/she is their own blood.

            - Jesus told these parables to reveal God’s immense love for people. He isn’t satisfied with the ninety-nine righteous in heaven, but shall look for the lost child until He finds him/her.

            - God loves people when they are still sinners because all of them are His children. Christ paid more attention to the publican and the prostitute because they need to be brought back to God. The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son, enlightens people’s mind so they can recognize their sins and repent. When they return, God is ready to forgive all of their sins and to recover their rights as God’s children. All of these points are beautifully displayed in the parable of “the Prodigal Son.”

           

3.2/ The joy of finding the lost sheep: Jesus continued his parable, “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.'”

            - As the parents are happy when they find their lost child or their sick child be healthy, God also rejoices as such when a sinner repents and being saved.

            - Each lost child is like a thorn in God’s heart. We shouldn’t let our Father’s heart is such pain without our repentance and return to Him.

            - Our Father’s pain must also be our pain. We should also go out and look for our lost brothers and sisters and bring them to God because they are also of our blood.

            - Christ gave us and all sinners a firm hope when he said: “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - Who should we believe to give our life for? Are we ready to accept Christ as our Good Shepherd?

            - As pastors and parents, we are also given the shepherds’ duty for our parishioners or children. Are we imitating Christ to love and to care for each of them?

            - Are we humble to recognize that we are also the lost sheep whom Christ are looking for or we proudly think that we are the good sheep?

            - Are our hearts sensitive and loving as Jesus’ heart or they are so hard to welcome God’s grace to forgive those who sinned against us?