Saturday, April 24, 2010

Good Shepherd Sunday: “My sheep hear my voice"

No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”

"The Church is, accordingly, a sheepfold, the sole and necessary gateway to which is Christ. It is also the flock of which God himself foretold that he would be the shepherd, and whose sheep, even though governed by human shepherds, are unfailingly nourished and led by Christ himself, the Good Shepherd and Prince of Shepherds, who gave his life for his sheep.
-- CCC 754

The bishop is the first reference for those who seek to hear the voice of Jesus the good shepherd.

"The Good Shepherd ought to be the model and "form" of the bishop's pastoral office. Conscious of his own weaknesses, "the bishop . . . can have compassion for those who are ignorant and erring. He should not refuse to listen to his subjects whose welfare he promotes as of his very own children. . . . The faithful . . . should be closely attached to the bishop as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father":

"Let all follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ follows his Father, and the college of presbyters as the apostles; respect the deacons as you do God's law. Let no one do anything concerning the Church in separation from the bishop."
-- CCC 896
The parish priest shares in the ministry of the bishop and is thus appointed to pastoral care for a portion of the flock of God in union with the bishop. The priest exercises the ministry of reconciliation through forgiveness of sins.

"When he celebrates the sacrament of Penance, the priest is fulfilling the ministry of the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, of the Good Samaritan who binds up wounds, of the Father who awaits the prodigal son and welcomes him on his return, and of the just and impartial judge whose judgment is both just and merciful. The priest is the sign and the instrument of God's merciful love for the sinner."

-- CCC 1465

The flock hears Christ's voice through the handing on of revelation through Scripture and Tradition.

"The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:

"- she was and remains built on 'the foundation of the Apostles,' the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;

"- with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, the 'good deposit,' the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;

"- she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ's return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, 'assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church's supreme pastor':

"You are the eternal Shepherd
who never leaves his flock untended.
Through the apostles
you watch over us and protect us always.
You made them shepherds of the flock
to share in the work of your Son."
-- CCC 857
"Only the divine identity of Jesus' person can justify so absolute a claim as 'He who is not with me is against me'; and his saying that there was in him 'something greater than Jonah,. . . greater than Solomon', something 'greater than the Temple'; his reminder that David had called the Messiah his Lord, and his affirmations, 'Before Abraham was, I AM', and even 'I and the Father are one.'
-- CCC 590

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