Sunday, July 18, 2021

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Flock He Shepherds

Dear readers, sorry for this "in your face" message but it is urgent and I do not know any other way to get help.  The pandemic has hit us all.  It has hit those who rely on donations even worse.  We need your help!  

Please consider helping my fundraising campaign which will help me maintain and expand this evangelization work.

Funds are needed for the following:

1. Help keep the blog domain URL names which are expensive and help bring in web traffic.  see godaddy.com for more information on the costs of premium domain names.

2. To help purchase podcasting equipment for the radio podcast show and expand the time slot for it by updating the subscription. For subscription costs see: https://secure.blogtalkradio.com/register.aspx?aid=CRMTS

3. I mail religious articles (Rosaries, Crucifixes, Pamphlets, Medals, Scapulars, etc) to people who request them. This costs money to purchase and mail. Shipping is expensive, so funds are needed to help cover this cost as well. See usps.com for cost information regarding shipping.

4. I want to publish some books to help maintain this work via sales. In order to publish, I need funds for printing, access to research papers to cite from (journals et al), etc.

5. In the future, I may expand the work on Livestream and other streaming and video services which also cost money.

6. We will need money to purchase the equipment needed for these endeavors.  The equipment includes computers, printers, audio devices, 2 mevo cameras for live streaming. 

All monies will go towards the ministry of Sacerdotus in order to keep it stable and running for at least 3 to 4 more years until another fundraising campaign will be needed.

Again, without your help, I will lose this domain name in six months when the renewal of it is due. If this happens, I will lose access to keywords, search engines, and millions of visitors. Moreover, someone else may purchase the domain for malicious purposes in order to attack Catholicism or me by pretending to be me.  Your help can help me keep this going and expand it, especially the radio podcast subscription.  With it, I can speak more, have guests and take calls on air live.

Our world is becoming more and more secular and without strong Catholic voices online, then it will continue to grow and push back all that Christianity has done in order to build the West.  As you may know, atheism thrives online.  On the internet, atheists can create blogs and other social networks which they use to promote their misconceptions.  Many donate millions to them. This draws in naive youth who read these blogs and buy into the rhetoric. We must stop this by having online evangelization work done just like sacerdotus.com which is a source for those of faith and no faith to get clear answers to the questions and claims regarding atheism.

I hope you reading this will make a donation at www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus to help me.

God will repay you for your help.  I promise to remember at Mass, Liturgy of Hours, and private prayer all of those people who have helped me keep this alive.


Reflection:

Today's readings focus on the flock of the Church.  Last week we read of Jesus sending out the disciples two by two (see: Sacerdotus: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time - He Sends Us Out).

In the first reading, we read about the situation in Israel. The shepherds were not doing a good job. They misled the flock causing them to scatter. These shepherds were entrusted to care for God's flock and instead did not care for them (Ezekiel 34).  God warned them of imminent punishment for this lack of concern for His flock. We then read that God Himself will gather the remnant of the flock (Jeremiah 32:38, Ezekiel 37:27).  He will gather them each and return them to their meadow (Ezekiel 34:12, Ezekiel 34:11, Isaiah 50:11).  While there, they will increase and multiply.  God then promises to give them new shepherds who will do a better job and says that He will bring forth the shoot of David, or descendant of David who will be a king (Isaiah 11:10, Romans 15:12).  This shoot of David is of course Jesus (Matthew 1:1).  Jesus is the Good Shepherd who will gather the flock that was lost (John 10:11-18). In other words, God Himself will shepherd His people. This brings us to today's Psalm which echos this by stating that the Lord is my shepherd.

The Psalm today is one that is well known. God is our shepherd (Psalms 80:1). He cares for us, gives us rest and waters that refresh us.  As a shepherd, He guides and protects each of us (Psalms 95:7). Even when we are in the "dark valley," God is still with us (Colossians 1:13). We may not notice His presence, but He is there.  Because God is there, we fear nothing or no one (Romans 8:31).  No one will triumph over us or celebrate against us because God is there for us (Psalm 41:11). Only goodness comes for those who reside in the presence of God, or His house (Lamentations 3:25).

In the second reading, we are reminded that we were far off at one point. At one point in life, we were not in the Church. Perhaps we did not believe or never practiced the faith.  However, that changed because of the blood of Christ. We are near to God.  Jesus is our peace.  He opened up the doors between man and God (1 Timothy 2:5).  The division that separated us from God is gone in Jesus (Matthew 27:51). Jesus broke down the legalism that had taken hold of Israel. The shepherds or the leaders of Israel twisted the faith, making it into a form of control. Atheists often critic and describe religion as "mind-control." They state that religion restricts free thought and action. Well, this was the case with the shepherds of the past. They got so caught up with the laws that they forgot that they were made for men, not the other way around (Mark 2:27). Laws serve us, we do not serve them. This is why even when immoral laws pass, we must do what it takes to undo them.

Jesus changed this and restored what the faith is supposed to be (Matthew 5:17).  We must be careful not to become like the shepherds of Israel who got caught up with the rules and did not capture the spirit of them (Matthew 23:27). As Catholics, we must not get caught up in traditions that seem to have been erased by the Church (Vatican II) but in reality, simply took on a new expression. We must be careful not to think that certain ceremonies in the Liturgy must be done mechanically in order to be valid, or believe that Latin is somehow a magical language that only God listens to.  Furthermore, today some of our shepherds have not taught the faith. This led to misconceptions among Catholics regarding contraception, abortion, and homosexuality.  These shepherds today push for changes in marriage and who can receive the Holy Eucharist even if divorced. Others allowed or participated in the violation of our most precious asset: children.  These shepherds will have to answer to God for their lack of care for the flocks entrusted to them which forced many to scatter.

Finally, in the Gospel, we read that Jesus gathered with the apostles. They were overwhelmed by the crowds that had come and needed rest.  The people were desperate to see Jesus and the apostles. Jesus sees this and feels sorry for them.  These people were like sheep without a shepherd.  He then begins to teach them.  Here we see the connection to the first reading.  Jesus is the shoot of David who is king; He is God who comes to pasture His own flock (Ezekiel 34:23).  Christ is the head of the Church (Colossians 1:18, Ephesians 5:23). The Church is His body (1 Corinthians 12:27). In this body, we are in the "meadows" feeding off the Holy Eucharist and drinking the fresh waters of Baptism, so to speak (John 6:51, John 4:14).  This is why "outside of the Church there is no salvation" (CCC 846-848)  The phrase is controversial, but one must understand what it really is stating.  This is not an attack on other religions (CCC 847).  It is a reminder that the Church is the normative means by which we are saved in Christ (CCC 849).  She is His body.  A few days ago, the Holy Father released a motu propio entitled Traditionis Custodes or Custodians of Tradition (see more here: Sacerdotus: Ite, missa est: Pope Motu Propio restricts Extraordinary Form of the Mass).  A motu propio is like an executive order by the president. It is an order that can be changed by the pope or his successor. Anyhow, this recent motu propio restricts the use of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass or the rite used in 1962.  The reason for this is because some Catholics (both clergy and lay) who call themselves "traditionalists" have attacked Vatican II, the Ordinary Form of the Mass we use now, and the hierarchy. Some have gone as far as creating a church within the Church describing it as the "true Church" that exists underground while the mainstream Church is a modernist sect.  This has caused division in the Church with some Catholics calling others heretics and claiming they are not real Catholics just because they do not attend the Extraordinary Form liturgies.  Some openly reject Vatican II and even refuse to call Pope Francis by his title and chosen name and instead call him Bergoglio.  As a shepherd, the pope is restoring unity and order.  Catholics must be faithful and be obedient to the pope and the Church if we are to grow and be palatable to those outside of the Church.  Causing divisions and being contentious based on our personal tastes in the liturgy is not helping Christ or the Church. 

We must be faithful to the Church and help her grow in the world (John 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:13, Titus 1:9).  As Catholics, we must accept the teachings of the Church since they come from Christ who guides us via the Holy Spirit (John 14:26, John 16:13).  The teachings of the Church are not suggestions.  They are necessary for us to continue our journey to God while on Earth. As the late Cardinal John J. O' Connor said, "The Church is not a salad bar from which you choose what pleases you" (Coren, PG 30).  The Church is a full meal we must enjoy. Every good meal has some vegetables we may not like.  They may be bitter or strange-looking.  In the end, these are the most nutritious of the foods on the plate.  We must eat of it all and not grab the dessert because it pleases us and leave the rest behind.

Let us continue to be loyal to the Catholic Church and tell others about our beautiful revealed faith. As St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote, "Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church" (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Ch 8). The multitude we read of in the Gospel is the Church.  They are the people of every nation that no one can count (Revelation 7:9).  May God bless our Catholic Church and may Jesus Christ be praised!



Readings:  Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

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