Jesus shows himself as both the Shepherd and the Lamb. Remember how, at Mass, we say of Jesus’ Body and Blood, “Behold the Lamb of God”. He is the sacrificial lamb offered for our sins.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us he is the shepherd and the sheep know his voice. He is also the gate, the gate of heaven and eternal life.
“Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep.”
Jesus wants to lead us and guide us to eternal life.
However, if you read the scriptures more carefully, you realize that Jesus is not content with being with us. Jesus really desires to be IN us, not merely near us.
When you attend a Catholic wedding you hear Jesus’ words, from the Gospel of Matthew,
“… the two shall become one flesh…, they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Mt 19:5-6
Jesus desires no less with us. Jesus desires to be one flesh with us, not merely WITH us or NEAR us, but IN us, as one flesh.
The Easter mystery, the Paschal mystery shows this to be true. Jesus’ Passion and Death begin with the Mass, the last Supper. After his Resurrection, on the first day, the same day of the Resurrection, Jesus celebrates Mass with the disciples on the road to Emaus. There was the breaking open of the Word, the Old Testament, followed by the Breaking of the Bread when the disciples finally recognized him.
Easter, our Passover, then, is like a “sandwich” with Jesus’ Passion in the center, preceded and followed by Jesus’ presentation of the first Masses. He said Mass for us just prior his Passion, and the same day as His Resurrection. He was both the Shepherd and the Lamb, leading us, guiding us. This was the meal Jesus desired to share with us, his followers for our salvation. He wants his followers to consume his Body and Blood; He wants to be IN us.
Have you noticed that we moved the Tabernacle? I want to explain to you the reasons for this move.
Do you remember how we used to have the practice of the procession after Communion, with the Ciborium returning from the Altar to the Tabernacle? Everybody stood, while the minister carried the Blessed Sacrament to the Tabernacle.
That action was an unfortunate distraction from the truth, and you cannot find that liturgical action in the Roman Missal. When you receive the Blessed Sacrament, YOU become the Tabernacle. Jesus is IN you! The Tabernacle in the church is simply a place to reserve the Blessed Sacrament until it can be given to someone to consume. When you receive Holy Communion, you become the Tabernacle of the Lord, because He is IN you. That time after Communion is for you to contemplate that reality.
Let’s take a closer look at the faithful image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Virgen Mary. She is pregnant, carrying her God in her womb. Her other “nicknames” from the earliest days of the Church include, “Theotokos”, or “God-bearer”, because she carries God in her womb. Mary is often referred to as the first Tabernacle. Her invitation to us is to be Baptized and to become Tabernacles of the Lord, just like her.
You may recall that I have said in previous homilies, “Do you want to live in the Kingdom of God?”
There are three things that the Baptized can do to live in the Kingdom of God. It is really very simple.
• First, do not miss Mass
• Second, receive Holy Communion as often as you can
• Third, go to Confession frequently.
The impact of the Mass upon the Apostles and the early Church was profound. From the very first day of Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead, the Church has said Mass. First we break open scripture, like Jesus did on the road to Emaus. Then we bless the bread and wine and consume them, just as Jesus commanded immediately before and after his Passion. That is how we participate in the Kingdom of God, as Tabernacles of God, bearing God within us, like Mary.
We have permission from the Bishop to move the Tabernacle to a place behind the Altar. We are never again going to have that post-Communion procession to the Tabernacle. Instead, after Communion, I suggest you pray, contemplate and give thanksgiving that God allowed you to become the real Tabernacle. Don’t get distracted by anything else at that moment.
Our old Tabernacle is a good one. We have sent it to be re-furbished. Meanwhile we will use this smaller one. We have been told that the re-furbished Tabernacle will be returned to us prior to the feast of Corpus Christi and the celebration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in June.
I also want to share with you a few words about my recent vacation. Before I came to the parish, I admit that I didn’t know very much about the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It says “Sacred Heart” is on the sign outside, but once inside, the casual visitor would not know this church is dedicated to the Sacred Heart. I began to read about the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
I decided to spend my vacation to go to the source of devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus where it all began. I traveled to France and to Paray-le-Monial, and the convent where Jesus appeared in 1671-1673 to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. It was my objective to learn from the source.
A friend of mine traveled with me, Fr. Victor Mayorga, my previous Pastor in San Marcos. I was able to pray for our parish at the altar of the tomb of St. Margaret Mary. We learned about the apparitions of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary in that same Chapel and Jesus’ request that we honor the First Friday after the Feast of Corpus Christi with a Feast to His Most Sacred Heart, with Mass, adoration and prayer. He told her to do the same on all First Fridays of the month afterward. Jesus’ appearances to St. Margaret Mary occurred while the Saint was at Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
What was the central message of the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Receive Holy Communion as often as possible! We need to study and learn about the devotions to the Sacred Heart and to teach all who come to our parish about the Sacred Heart. That is our mission as parishioners.
You may have noticed that we have placed various images of the Sacred Heart in the entrances to the Church. Please spend some time in prayer with them. Together we need to pray and select an image of the Sacred Heart to hang behind the Altar, so that all who worship here may know that this parish is dedicated to The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Jesus intended us to become Tabernacles by consuming his Body and Blood. I propose we spend the next few weeks prior to Corpus Christi preparing to celebrate the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, with prayer, learning and hunger to share with others the message of the many blessings associated with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with others.