Your Sunday Sermon Notes and a “fervorino”

Was there a good point in the sermon you heard for your Mass of Sunday obligation?

Let us know.

Here’s a mini-sermon, a bloggy fervorino for this Sunday.

For a couple days one of you readers has been sending me high resolution images of beautiful old holy cards.  They simultaneously reflect the deep piety of the people and of the era of their making, and they also increase piety by looking at them.  I am sincerely moved by the images, which can be both simple and packed.  Some people might dub them old-fashioned or even saccharine, I don’t care.  They work!

Because today is, in the older, traditional Roman Rite, nicknamed Good Shepherd Sunday, here is a lovely card which I received. It shamelessly mixes metaphors (shepherd, tossed boat), but aptly sums up what our own attitude ought to be in the chaos of the Church today.  It is also perfect for this Sunday.  Have a good look, then read the readings for the day, below.


The jaded might scratch their heads and wonder why the lamb is in a boat.  Maybe the lamb got lost?   I say lamb, because its age and size are proportioned to the Lord, who appears to be young.  I suppose this was a card intended for children.

Now consider today’s Epistle, in which the Lord is described as being both Shepherd and Bishop of the soul.

Lesson from the first letter of St Peter the Apostle
1 Pet 2:21-25

Dearly beloved, Christ suffered for us, leaving you an example, that you should follow His steps who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. Who when He was reviled, did not revile: when He suffered, He threatened not, but delivered Himself to him that judged Him unjustly: who His own self bore our sins in His body upon the tree: that we, being dead to sins, should live to justice; by whose stripes you were healed. For you were as sheep going astray: but you are now converted to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Allelúia, allelúia
Luke 24:35.
The disciples knew the Lord Jesus in the breaking of bread. Allelúia
John 10:14.
I am the good Shepherd: and I know My sheep, and Mine know Me.

Now let’s bring in another text, the Collect of the Mass, as an interpretive aid. It says:

O God, who, by the humility of Thy Son, didst lift up a fallen world, grant unending happiness to Thy faithful: that those whom Thou hast snatched from the perils of endless death, Thou mayest cause to rejoice in everlasting days….

The perils of death… endless death.  In our holy card, things aren’t looking good for the lamb’s future… if it weren’t for the Lord, look over him.  In the image, the Lord is the lamb’s Shepherd (pastor) and, literal, Over-Looker (episcopus).

However, can drill a little more into the boat and bishop connection?  What’s with the lamb in the storm-tossed boat and Christ as the “Bishop of our souls”?

The word for Bishop in 1 Peter 2:25 is episkopos (epi-, which intensifies, and –skopos, “seer”, as in English telescope, microscope, etc.), so, “keen observer”.  In ancient times the episkopos inspected troops before for battle. In the Church, the episkopos, the bishop, inspects, guides and governs the soldier pilgrims of the Church Militant, He makes sure that they are ready for what is to come so that they can attain their goal: victory and return to the fatherland.  A similar figure and language shows up in our liturgical prayers.  Another image like the episcopus, and also military, is the gubernatorGubernator, in our sumptuous Lewis & Short Dictionary is from guberno, “to steer or pilot a ship”. Logically, it also means “to direct, manage, conduct, govern, guide”. The Liddell, Scott, Jones Greek Lexicon, or LSJ, says that kubernao is “steer”, “drive” and, metaphorically “guide, govern” and then “act as a pilot”.  The episcopus and the gubernator do pretty much the same thing, one on the land, the other on the sea… or, ecclesiastically, in the see.

Look again at our image, above. Christ is both Good Shepherd of the soul (hence, the lamb), and Bishop of the soul (hence the boat).  He is our true Captain, as it were, in this storm-tossed barque which is the Church.


Cleanse my heart and my lips, O almighty God, who didst cleanse the lips of the prophet Isaias with a burning coal, and vouchsafe, through Thy gracious mercy, so to purify me, that I may worthily announce Thy holy Gospel. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Give me Thy blessing, O Lord. The Lord be in my heart and on my lips, that I may worthily and in a becoming manner, proclaim His holy Gospel. Amen.

P. The Lord be with you.
S. And with thy spirit.
Continuation ? of the Holy Gospel according to John
R. Glory be to Thee, O Lord.
John 10:11-16.

At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep and flieth: and the wolf catcheth and scattereth the sheep: and the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling, and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good Shepherd: and I know Mine, and Mine know Me, as the Father knoweth Me, and I know the Father: and I lay down My life for My sheep. And other sheep I have that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.

R. Praise be to Thee, O Christ.
S. By the words of the Gospel may our sins be blotted out.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. lmgilbert says:

    Although he had a degree in history, Father somehow wound up being computer tech support at the library of a major state university, He couldn’t afford his own personal computer and didn’t really know that much about computers. However, when people came to him with their questions he knew enough to press the F1 key, or to simply Google the question with the client sitting right there. Often when he solved their problem they would say, “How did you do that?” And, of course, over time he became personally knowledgeable and did not have to consult other resources. He got the reputation of being the go-to person for solving computer glitches.

    Now, here in the Gospel we have Our Lord and the disciples taking a two and a half to three hour walk together to Emmaus with our Lord offering tech support to the disciples. He rebukes them for not familiarizing themselves with the manual, that is, the Scriptures, but nevertheless explains the Scriptures referring to himself.

    Now, he said, as a priest I have people coming to me with many questions, since I am looked to as tech support for their spiritual lives. Yet, here again, often people have not read the manual. And often in Confession I am presented with a complex question which I only have a few minutes to deal with.

    It would really help if people would read the Scriptures, the Lives of the saints and the teachings of the Church. Consider St. Ignatius who when he was laid up in the hospital read the lives of the saints, was converted, and thought, “If these men of old could becomes saints, so could I.” At least, you might think of doing some such reading, so that when someone says to you that they have a spiritual problem, you might be in a position to be their “tech support.”

    Father, of course referred to the disciples recognizing Our Lord in the breaking of the bread as being symbolic of the Eucharist, but also of all the sacraments, for we encounter Our Lord in all of them.

    A memorable homily, to be sure, but that is not unusual in our Dominican parish here in Portland. There is a, btw, canon law conference here next week, and I noted with a smile that the powers that be (presumably Archbishop Sample) have arranged it so that the first Mass of the conference will be at Holy Rosary Parish, Wed. 7AM. Could it be that he wishes these priests, bishops and canon lawyers to have some exposure to the beauty of the Mass ad orientem?

  2. marthawrites says:

    We had a truly excellent sermon offered by the visiting Superior General of the FSSP order. He gave a brief history of the image of Christ as the Good Shepherd saying that in the early Church after being baptized at Easter the new Christians took off their baptismal robes and went into the hostile world protected by the Good Shepherd whose image was drawn in the catacombs and depicted in the first marble statue of Christ. Further on he spoke about each priest being a pastor (shepherd) to his flock as Christ encouraged Peter by asking him three times, “Do you love Me?” and that priests come from families who foster sacrificing one’s life for the benefit of others. He mentioned that in France after praying the Divine Praises at the close of Benediction the people pray, “Lord give us priests; Lord, give us holy priests; Lord, give us many priests.” He suggested we adopt that prayer.

  3. Christine says:

    One of the things that our priest said today that struck me was that just as during Lent we prepare for Easter, during Easter we are preparing for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

  4. Sliwka says:

    Fr of the OSBM first encouraged us to pray fervently for priestly vocations (especially the OSBM).

    He then used the Acts of the Apostles to instruct us that if we want to accomplish great things like the Apostles (by the power of God) we need to die to ourselves and our own will for God’s will.

  5. frjim4321 says:

    The homily here was okay, and maybe a little bit better than usual. The story itself is so rich. It almost preaches itself. I always pictured that dinner with a group of disciples, but when you crunch the numbers, there were only two. Those two could have been a husband and wife; a couple of women or men; we can’t know. But it seems that it was a mere trio at that Emmaus Dinner, because only later did they go to testify to the eleven. It was a dinner of incredible human and spiritual intimacy. I understand that this story can be spun as a “type” of the Eucharist (Barron), but I think there is a lot more here. It’s about recognizing the human dignity in every person, including the most marginalized of society, and you can all make your own list. Also, I suggest considering this drama not only on it’s own, but coupled with the equally intimate and human breakfast by the sea of Tiberius.

  6. frjim4321 says:

    Yes, I know my contraction was incorrect, but I can’t get in there to correct it.

  7. arga says:

    In TLM, Father observed today that Jesus in the readings wasn’t compared to a cowboy but a shepherd. The former drives his animals — shouting at them and forcing them to move in a certain direction while the latter leads his flock because they seek to follow him. Unstated inference(to me) : cowboy religion of violence and coercion vs. shepherd religion of peace and reason.

  8. un-ionized says:

    frim, it’s always pesky, its. It is, is not it?

  9. Mike says:

    Our pastors are our shepherds in persona Christi. Pray that our pastors may be strengthened in fidelity!

  10. My homily keyed off the Gospel account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, which is clearly about the Eucharist and the Mass. I explained what we say yes to when we receive the Eucharist: that we need Jesus to save us from hell, that we are prepared to die to the world and live for Christ. There was more, but that will do.

  11. visigrad says:

    A firm reminder that the teachings of The Church cannot/ will not change….so get a Catechism and read it !!

  12. michael says:

    Thank you Father Z for that blog- homily ! The image in the old holy card is also supremely comforting — I often feel like that poor lamb in the sinking ship. Thank you !

  13. AHCatholic says:

    The priest at the TLM I attended taked about how there are shepherds who give all they have to their flock and there are hirelings who are only in it for themselves i.e. bad shepherds, but stressed how essential it is that we have one shepherd who we stay with and follow, which is the Roman Pontiff, because if we reject the shepherd and claim to follow who is higher than the shepherd- God- we only end up splitting further and disintigrating because we absolutely need the shepherd. He also pointed out how according to Thomas Aquinas, schism is a worse offense than heresy because schism is a sin against charity, which is the greatest virtue, and heresy is merely a sin against faith. So although the homily wasn’t explicit about anything in particular going on today, the message was essentially that the priest understands how trying a situation faithful Catholics are in today with all that is going on in the Church, but we must maintain unity and avoid the temptaition to schism as it is of the devil.

  14. Spinmamma says:

    Our Priest made several good points in his Homily, which expanded on the readings for today. The one that I will share is the idea that the story of Jesus joining the two travelers on the road to Emmaus . He suggested it is a type–when we ponder Jesus, he will walk with us and teach us many things. As we learn more, we more readily recognize Jesus as our companion. The breaking of bread at the home of the travelers reminds us that the Sacrament of the Eucharist is participatory–we are not merely passive receivers. And, he suggested that Cleopas’ companion was his wife. (I believe she was one of Marys at the cross, although our Priest did not mention that. ) This was interesting to me as the artwork portraying the road to Emmaus depicts both of the travelers as male.

  15. JonPatrick says:

    How relevant is it to us to talk about sheep and shepherds (our parish is located downtown in a medium sized city in New England) ? However it is relevant to the understanding of the Gospel. Cows are driven from behind, but that doesn’t work for sheep, they must be led, the shepherd going ahead of them to show there is no danger. There is a bond between sheep and shepherd, the different flocks would mingle together in the pastures, but each shepherd would call his own and they would recognize his call and follow him. Like the sheep we must listen for His voice and follow him.

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