As we gather this weekend to celebrate the fourth Sunday of Easter, we also honor and pray this Mother's Day for our mothers, those living and those deceased. It was one hundred eight years ago, on May 9, 1914, that President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. As he wrote in his proclamation, "... we proclaim this special day as a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country." Initially, it was a day to honor our mothers during church services in various congregations. In the years since 1914, greeting cards, dining out, gifts, flowers and various other activities have become associated with Mother's Day.
As we begin the month of May (a month traditionally dedicated to the Virgin Mary), we are given an opportunity to recall the important part of Mary in God's plan, as the Mother of God. As we celebrate Mothers’ Day 2022, let us to do all we can to provide support for mothers and all women in creating an atmosphere of respect for them and all of God’s people. At each of our Masses this weekend, we will give a special blessing to mothers and those who show a mother’s love to others. May God bless all those who have given birth to each of us who gather to worship this weekend.
As our country continues to make progress in reducing the danger of the COVID virus, I encourage you to continue to use safe health practices. Wear a mask when appropriate, wash your hands frequently and, if you have not already received virus shots and boosters, please consider obtaining this vaccine for your safety and for the safety of those around you who might not be able to receive the vaccine or, are more vulnerable to infections and disease.
This weekend is also World Day of Prayer for Vocations. I offer below a reflection on this Day of Prayer for Vocations that I recently received from the Archdiocese.
The fourth Sunday of Easter traditionally remembers Jesus, the Good Shepherd. In today’s brief but powerful gospel passage, Jesus speaks about himself as our shepherd. His words speak about us who belong to him and about his enduring promise to us: My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
“My sheep hear my voice”: Each one of us can say that we have heard the voice of Jesus speak to us. That voice of the Good Shepherd with its message and promise of forgiveness and new life came to us in different ways. Perhaps the voice of Jesus came to us through our mother – whom we honor today on Mother’s Day – or our father, or perhaps a teacher. In a special way, many of us can recall hearing the voice of Jesus speak to us through a priest in our parish or through a religious sister who served in the parish or a school or hospital or a deacon who served as deacons do in so many ways in the Church.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, never leaves his Church unattended. He uses the voices of people in the family of faith to be his voice today, to share the great promise that makes all the difference in our lives: “I give my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.” In a particular way, he uses the voices of priests, religious women and men, and deacons to care for those who belong to his flock.
Our Holy Father Pope Francis has declared this Good Shepherd Sunday to be a World Day of Prayer for Vocations – for all vocations in the Church but in a particular way for vocations to the ordained ministry of priesthood and diaconate and to the consecrated life of religious women and men. What does this mean for us?
Obviously, if it is a World Day of Prayer for Vocations, we are called to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send laborers into the fields to bring to him a holy and dedicated people. And we pray that prayer here and now in this celebration of the Eucharist.
We also reflect on our responsibility – a responsibility that belongs to each and every member of the Church – to foster vocations. We allow ourselves to be the voice of Jesus calling men and women to a dedicated life of service, to be the presence of the Good Shepherd in our world that is so much in need of him
Finally, we thank God for calling each one of us. We thank him, because, indeed, we have heard the voice of Jesus who summons us to follow him and to serve our brothers and sisters. We appreciate our own vocation, and rededicate ourselves to it.
A special Thank You to those who gave generously for the Holy Thursday Collection and the Good Friday collection. On Holy Thursday we received $2,819 and as announced at Mass we sent half ($1,409) to Franciscan Outreach and their ministry to the poor and homeless here in Chicago. We sent half ($1,409) to the Franciscan Friars in Ukraine to help their efforts to provide for refugees and victims of the war in Ukraine. The Good Friday collection ($2,378) was sent to the Holy Land to help maintain the sacred shrines and support the Christian parishes in the Holy Land.
PRAY FOR PEACE
Recently, I joined many others at the Chicago Loop Synagogue (just around the corner from us on Clark Street) for "Standing Together for Peace" a special fundraising concert for the people of Ukraine. The music was spectacular. The touching and heartfelt reflections offered a challenge to all of us to do all we can to end the war in Ukraine and restore peace to the people who are suffering so much with this horrific assault on a free country.
On Easter Sunday, Pope Francis offered these thoughts after his Regina Caeli prayers. He said, "I renew my appeal for an Easter truce, a minimal and tangible sign of a desire for peace. The attack must be stopped, to respond to the suffering of the exhausted population; it must stop, in obedience to the words of the Risen Lord, who on Easter Day repeats to his disciples: “Peace be with you!” (Lk 24:36; Jn 20:19.21). I ask everyone to increase prayer for peace and to have the courage to say, to show that peace is possible. Political leaders, please, listen to the voice of the people, who want peace, not an escalation of the conflict."
Let us all continue to pray for peace and an end to violence. May you have a peaceful and relaxing week.