Dear Padre Serra Family,
This weekend, May 2 and 3, 2020, was to be the wonderful celebration of First Holy Communion for our Faith Formation children. They have been readily preparing for their sacraments for almost two years now but the current situation in our community and across the globe has rearranged our schedules. We in Faith Formation completely understand the concept of altered plans (almost daily!), and often have a Plan B or Plan C if needed. Yet, the past weeks have the formation staff taking a few steps back and allowing the Holy Spirit to influence our creative abilities so that we can continue to share the Catholic faith via the Gospel stories.
Today in John’s Gospel, Jesus portrays a true image of daily life to illustrate the depth of his desired relationship with us. He reminds us that He is the shepherd: “Amen, amen, I say to you ... Whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.” (John 10:1-10) Amen, amen, truly, absolutely, yes! How emphatically He tells us that we belong to Him! “The shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out ... they recognize his voice.” Just as the relationship of a shepherd to his sheep is personal, so is our own relationship to Jesus through the Holy Eucharist. The fact that we cannot physically partake of the sustenance that is the bread and wine become body and blood does not exclude us from the First Sacrament, Jesus. Our good shepherds here on earth, Pope Francis, Bishop Gomez, Father Patrick and others, entreat us to enter a deeper spiritual communion with God, present in the Blessed Sacrament. The Lord wants to remain with us in the Eucharist, and therefore, we become the tabernacle, carrying Him with us.
And if we do not understand Jesus as our Shepherd, the Gospel continues and tells us He is also the gate. The ideal image of a good and caring shepherd becomes even more evident when we learn that it was customary for the shepherd to sleep on the ground across the threshold of the sheepfold in order to protect his flock. In other words, a watchful shepherd became, literally, the gate. Jesus is not any door, but THE door through which all people come to the Father. “Whoever enters through me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture ... I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” What a gift Jesus offers to us — the opportunity of eternal life with Him! He has created a picture of total freedom, coupled with total security. We need only to recognize his voice and desire his presence in our hearts to be truly united.
Persist in your warm prayers for our First Communion children and adults through their ongoing preparation. I humbly request that Padre Serra parishioners wear a white garment today, not only to continue celebrating the glorious Resurrection of Jesus, but as a reminder of our own Baptisms and First Communions. When our faith family returns to communal liturgy within our sacred walls, it will be as if everyone is receiving Jesus for the first time in the Eucharist!