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Sunday:       The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Date:         June 3, 2016
Year:         C
The readings: [Ezek. 34:11-6; Rom. 5:5b-11; Lk. 15:3-7]
The message:  The Divine love of the Good Shepherd.
Prepared by:  Catholic Doors Ministry
Total words:  1103


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** The readings follow the sermon.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, welcome to today's celebration of the Holy Mass that commemorates the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I was touched by the beautiful readings of the Good Shepherd that the Catholic Church has chosen to echo the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

To me, the words "Sacred Heart of Jesus" symbolizes that the "love of Jesus is Divine." When I think of "Sacred," I am reminded that Jesus, God incarnated, is "Divine." And when I think of the "Heart," I am reminded of "love." Therefore, I associate "Sacred Heart" with "Divine love," the love that God has for mankind.

What is Divine love? Is it the same as human love, the type of love that a child has towards his parents, his playmates, or all those in his environment? Is it the same as spiritual love that we have for our spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ? Or is it different?

Today's readings explain the meaning of Divine love. While the readings explain a love that flows from God towards us, through our spiritual growth by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, we are expected to strive towards the highest level of spirituality that would raise our love in the likeness of the love of God. We are called to surpass the lower forms of love in order to attain Divine love, a self-sacrificial love that gives itself without boundaries or hesitation.

During today's First Reading from the Book of Ezekiel, we heard the Lord God say, "I myself will search for my sheep... as shepherds seek out their flocks... among scattered sheep... I will rescue them from all places... I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries... and will bring them into their own land..." Through these Sacred Words, we heard of the Lord God's personal commitment to bring His salvation to mankind and to establish His spiritual Kingdom.

God continued by saying, "I will feed them with good pasture... and they shall feed on rich pasture... I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down." These Words echo the richness of Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters." [Ps. 23:1-2]

The good pastures are the living Sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church, the Body of Christ. Jesus "is the Head of the Body, the Church; He is the beginning, the First-born from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything." [Col. 1:18]

Through faith in the Good Shepherd, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and consent to the Sacrament of Baptism, we were made righteous and admitted into the Mystical Body of Christ as living members. At that moment,

1) all traces of the original sin were erased;

2) all sins committed prior to the Sacrament of Baptism were erased;

3) we received the gift of a new heart and a new spirit from God [Ezek. 11:19; 18:31; 36:26];

4) the Holy Spirit made His indwelling within us so we will follow the statutes of God and be careful to observe His ordinances; [Ezek. 36:27]; and,

5) we became God's people. [Ezek. 11:20]

Feeding on good pasture, we are blessed with the Sacrament of Confession that helps us to maintain our righteousness. Through this holy Sacrament, the Lord God blots out our sins and remembers them no more. [Jer. 31:24; Is. 43:25]

Finally, through Christ, we have the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that gives life to our souls. Consequently, for us who persevere in the aforementioned, we qualify for our final inheritance, salvation through Christ, our adoption as children of God and eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Praise be the Good Shepherd for showing us the way.

Reviewing today's Second Reading, it can be summarized as following:

1) God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

2) Christ died for the ungodly. He died for us who are ungodly sinners, always resisting what is holy and praiseworthy for the glory of God.

3) While, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, to prove His love for us, while we still were sinners, Christ died for us.

4) Having been justified by the Blood of Christ, we will obtain our salvation, our adoption as children of God and eternal life in the Kingdom of God. To be justified means,

'The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us 'the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ' and through 'Baptism.' (C.C.C. # 1987)

5) Having been reconciled to God through the death of Jesus, much more surely will we be saved by His life because we were reconciled. In order words, having been reconciled to God through the death of Jesus, there is no doubt that we will be saved by this same act of reconciliation.

During today's Gospel Reading, we heard the Parable of the Lost Sheep. Again, we heard of the Divine love of the Good Shepherd. The difference between the Reading from the Gospel of Luke versus the First Reading from the Book of Ezekiel is that in the Gospel, emphasis was placed on the love of God for each and everyone of us.

The Divine love of the Good Shepherd is focused towards those who are spiritually dying. In His infinite love, God does not want one soul to be lost. In His own Words, God said, "For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone." [Ezek. 18:32] God seeks out those who are lost, shining His healing grace on them, in the hope of returning them to the pasture, the Body of Christ.

Do you not know that "The hairs of your head are all counted." "... you are of more value than many sparrows." [Mt. 10:30-1]

My brothers and sisters, "God is love." [1 Jn.4:8] The characteristics of His love are manifested through the endless titles that He possesses. Through the Good Shepherd, we perceive the love of God for each and everyone of us, especially those who shipwreck in their faith. Through the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we perceive that the love of Jesus is Divine love. Jesus is God! And His love for us can be no less than Divine love that shines forth from His Sacred Heart.

* * * * * * * * * *

The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

* * * * * * * * * *

First Reading...

"Thus says the Lord God: 'I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.

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 watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land.

I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel.

I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down,' says the Lord.

'I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed my sheep with justice.'" [Ezek. 34:11-16]

* * * * * * * * * *

Second Reading...

"Brothers and sisters: God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the unglodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, willl we be saved through him from the wrath of God.

For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation." [Rom. 5:5-11]

* * * * * * * * * *

Gospel Reading...

"Jesus told this parable to the scribes and Pharisees. 'Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on the shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.'

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.'" [Lk. 15:3-7]

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