Homily for May 12

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Easter
Scriptures for today's Mass 

For the past 25 years, at every First Communion Mass,
I’ve introduced the children by name, as I did today.

By the 5:00 Mass next Saturday,
our last First Communion for this season,
I will have introduced over 1500 boys and girls
as newcomers to the Lord’s Table and the Eucharist.

These introductions are remembered for years, for decades,
by the children - and by their parents and families,
by the people of our parish.

Let’s face it:
we all like to be recognized;  we all like to be singled out;
we all like to be called by name.

Jesus knows that about us, too
which is part of why he tells us in the gospel today:
 “You are all my sheep…  I know you… I call you by name…”

Think of the difference between shopping in a store
where the clerks don’t know you, don’t know your name,
and shopping in a store where you’re “a regular,”
where the clerks know you and call you by name.

Think of the difference in the two experiences…

Or maybe it’s a restaurant or a bar you frequent.
Remember the opening lyrics for the sitcom,  “CHEERS”?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name…

Jesus knows the name of every single person here today -
not just the First Communicants - but every single one of us.

And - he never forgets our names.

Even if it’s been years, decades
since we answered when he called us by name;
even if it’s been so long that we’ve forgotten
what his voice sounds like -
Jesus never forgets us,
never forgets the sound of our voices
and never stops calling each of us by name.
Because no mater what we’ve done or failed to do,
he, Good Shepherd that he is, will never stop calling us
- and calling us by name.

With Jesus, it’s never just,  “Hey, you!”  No.
It’s always by name:
Austin  Steve    Jane  Chad   Kara    Dan    Kristin    Frank          
Kerri     Matthew     Clare     Mike    Cettina    Euan   Carolyn
Frank      Lisa     Gustavo    Leny    Sean     Jillian.

Always by name…

But Jesus adds this, too:
My sheep follow me because they recognize my voice…

And that’s where you and I might, like sheep, go a bit astray.

When we don’t answer when the Lord calls our name,
when we don’t listen to his voice,
when we let other voices and sounds and noises distract us,    
we may actually forget the sound of his voice
even if he never forget us or our voice.

Perhaps today, this First Communion Mass
is a time to listen again for the Shepherd’s voice,
in our hearts and in mine
calling each of us by name.

And if you do, be aware of this:
sometimes the Lord disguises his voice.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if you came here today
because the Lord called your name
in the voice of a little boy or a little girl.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if, when the Lord called you
to come here today - he sounded just like
Charlotte or Aisling or Lillian or Penelope or Ivy or Fiona
or Grace or Aleah or Harper or Lochlan  or Chloe or Gabriella.

The Lord calls each of us in many ways, in many voices,
but he calls us all the time -
and he calls us each by name.

So here we are.
He called, we came,
we’re gathered at his table, the Shepherd’s table
where he wants to feed and nourish us
with the sacrament of his Body and Blood,
for these girls and boys for the first time,
for others of us for the umpteenth time.

He nourishes us with his mercy to restore our innocence
with his peace to calm our hearts
and with his joy to lift us up when we’re down.

He has called each of us by name!

Listen and listen carefully
because there’s not a day of your life or mine
that passes by without the Shepherd calling all of us with love
- and each of us by name.


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