Beloved in Christ,
We recently concluded our celebration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery and the Great Forty Days of Holy Pascha as we celebrated the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church of Christ. Having passed through the solemn and sobering days of Great Lent, having experienced the solemnity of Holy Week, having joyously celebrated the Lord’s Resurrection throughout the forty days of the Paschal Season, and having just commemorated the awesome day of Holy Pentecost, we begin now to enter into the weeks of the summer with its own cycle of feasts and fasts. In preparing for the summer days and weeks ahead, I have lately been reflecting upon the Lord Jesus as the Good Shepherd who leads His flock and guides and protects us throughout the ebb and flow of the year and the seasons of our lives.
In the Gospel of John (cf. John 10) Jesus is presented as the true Shepherd of God’s chosen flock. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (v. 11). He speaks about the relationship that binds him to the sheep of the flock, namely, to His disciples (that is, to us), and He emphasizes the fact that it is a relationship of mutual recognition. “My sheep” — He says — “hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (vv. 27-28). In carefully reading this phrase, we are able to observe that Jesus’ work is explained in several actions: Jesus speaks; Jesus knows; Jesus gives eternal life; Jesus safeguards.
The Good Shepherd — Jesus — is attentive to each one of us. He seeks us and loves us, addresses His Word to us, knowing the depths of our heart, our desires and our hopes, as well as our failures and disappointments. He accepts us and loves us as we are, with our merits and our faults. He gives eternal life to each one of us: that is, He offers us the opportunity to live a full life, a life without end. Moreover, He keeps us safe and leads us lovingly, helping us to journey upon difficult paths and the sometimes dangerous roads that appear in life.
The words and actions that describe the way in which Jesus, the Good Shepherd, interacts with us correspond to the verbs that relate to the sheep, namely to each one of us: “hear my voice”, “follow me”. They are actions that show how we must correspond to the tender and caring attitudes of the Lord. Indeed, hearing and recognizing His voice, implies a deep relationship with Him. This relationship with Christ is strengthened in prayer, in the heart-to-heart encounter with the divine Master and Shepherd of our souls. This relationship with Jesus, this openness, prayerfully speaking with Jesus and prayerfully listening to Him speak to us, strengthens within us the desire to follow Him, by emerging from the rocky path of sinful ways and abandoning selfish behavior in order to set out on new paths of Christian fellowship and of self-sacrificial service, following His example.
As we begin to recover from the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and as we try to fashion a new normal, let us not forget that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leads us, speaks to us, knows us, gives us eternal life and safeguards us. We are His flock, and we must strive to hear His voice as He lovingly examines the sincerity of our hearts and comforts us through His presence. And from this constant and ever-deepening relationship with our Shepherd, from speaking with Him and listening to Him, springs the joy of following Him, allowing ourselves to be led to the fullness of eternal life.
As we leave behind the festal season of Pascha and Pentecost, let us turn to the Ever-virgin Mary, Mother of Christ the Good Shepherd. May she, who readily responded to God’s call, protect our parishes and our families and help us to be faithful in proclaiming the Gospel in the service of the Kingdom of Heaven.
With love in the Good Shepherd who leads and protects His Flock,
DIACONAL ORDINATION – Sunday, July 11, will be yet another day of joy for our parish community as we celebrate the Ordination to the Holy Diaconate of Subdeacon Rodion Pfeiffer.The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy will begin at 9:00 a.m. A special coffee hour/reception will follow the Liturgy to continue the celebration on that festive day.The Holy Cross parish community and other guests will also be present.
REMEMBERING WITH GRATITUDE- This year marks the70th Anniversary of the founding of our parish and the 53rd Anniversary of the Consecration of Saints Peter and Paul Church, we remember all the Clergy and Faithful who founded our parish (1951), who built the “new” church and witnessed its consecration (1968), and who, through all these 70 years since the founding of our parish, have faithfully served Christ’s Flock here in our parish community. We especially remember Archbishop JOHN (Shahovskoy), the Archbishop of San Francisco, who founded our parish and placed it under the spiritual guidance of Archimandrite Peter (Zaychenko). Archbishop John also consecrated the church during the pastorate of Archpriest John Karateev, rector of our parish from 1962 to 1972. And we give thanks to God for all the clergy and faithful parishioners, gone to their rest before us, who, through their faith, sacrifices, and dedication, have provided us with the gift that is ours as members of this God-protected flock. May the Lord grant them rest with the saints! May their memory be eternal!