Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
We have finally finished installing the Sacred Heart window in our church. It has been a long but fruitful process. The Sacred Heart is the symbol of who we are as a Catholic Community. It is from the heart of Jesus that water and blood poured out when he was struck with a lance. This water and blood symbolize the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist. The Heart of Christ symbolizes the mercy and compassion of God for us.
The story of Peter meeting Cornelius in Acts is really about the spread of the Gospel, the good news which will go out to the ends of the earth, to the gentiles represented by Cornelius. The story of Cornelius depicts a pivotal moment when Peter, a Jew, at God's urging, crosses a line. Peter goes in the house of a pagan Cornelius and shares his faith in Jesus Christ. Cornelius' heart has also been prepared and he receives the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And Peter sums up the meaning of what just happened: I can see that God shows no partiality.
When you drive by a house and yard that looks unkempt, grass is uncut, weeds growing all over the place, what's your first thought: Whoever lives there doesn't care about his own yard, or about the people living around him. But the Gospel is not talking about the appearance of your lawn; it is talking about being fruitful in your life, being attached to the vine, who is Christ, and it's about being pruned, cultivated. When you care, you cultivate. And God cares about cultivating our communion with his son and with each other; otherwise, in some important ways we wither and die.
The hills are alive with the sound of music! That's what I'm thinking about as I write this article! Don't worry, I'll explain. This weekend is a very big one for many in our parish. We celebrated Confirmation on Friday evening and Saturday morning was First Communion. Think about that for just a second! Two huge Sacraments held on succeeding days! Our Parish is alive and growing and it is filled with music. We are truly blessed to be members of such a faith filled community. One that is growing and strong! We are a very fruitful branch of Jesus's vine. It is up to us adults to keep the flame of faith burning bright in our young people! They are so excited right now and filled for the first time with the Holy Spirit or with Jesus himself in the Eucharist! Try to remember your own excitement and the peace and joy you felt when you received these Sacraments! And do everything you can to keep that flame burning in your child's or grandchild's life!
Today has been designated as Good Shepherd Sunday. It is pleasant on a spring day to picture Christ with His sheep, resting in a pleasant pasture. Perhaps we may want to turn aside from all the hectic activities of modern life to enjoy the serenity and peace which this picture suggests. But the peace of this scene is soon to be disturbed. An intruder silently approaches the sheep. It is a wolf.