FR. BEN’S HOMILY THE THE 4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR C (GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY) (4)

FR. BEN’S HOMILY THE THE 4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR C (GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY)

THEME: THE CHALLENGES OF SHEPHERDING IN OUR CONTEMPORARY CHURCH!

BY: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)

HOMILY FOR SUNDAY MAY 8 2022

*Act 13 : 14 – 52, Rev 7 : 9 – 17, Jn 10 : 27 – 30.

A. PREAMBLE
The present day Church is faced with 2 great dangers; the tragedy of bad shepherds and the tragedy of ba







FR. BEN’S HOMILY THE THE 4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR C (GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY)

THEME: THE CHALLENGES OF SHEPHERDING IN OUR CONTEMPORARY CHURCH!

BY: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)

HOMILY FOR SUNDAY MAY 8 2022

 

*Act 13 : 14 – 52, Rev 7 : 9 – 17, Jn 10 : 27 – 30.

A. PREAMBLE
The present day Church is faced with 2 great dangers; the tragedy of bad shepherds and the tragedy of bad sheep. I don’t even know which is worse but I guess the latter is a more worrisome situation.

Vima Dasan said that ‘There are 3 kinds of followers of the Good Shepherd; (a) The few who make things happen, (b) Many who watch things happen, and (c) Majority who don’t even know what is happening. On this celebration of the Good Shepherd Sunday, we need to look at a number of practical challenges facing us a Church.

B. QUALITIES OF A GOOD SHEPHERD/ SHEEP
A good Shepherd has the following qualities ;
(a) He knows his Sheep.
(b) He feeds his Sheep.
(c) He protects his Sheep.
The good Sheep is also identified by the following qualities;
(a) He/ she belongs to the sheepfold.
(b) He/ she hears the voice of the Shepherd.
(c) He/ she follows the Shepherd’s direction.

C. WHO IS A CHURCH MEMBER?
Oftentimes, the Presbyterium in different places have engaged hotly on the argument of who is really a member of the Church of Christ? The issue of CLEARANCE for the Sacraments of Matrimony, Christian Burial Ceremonies, etc, has remained polemic.
Is the reception of Baptism (usually Infant baptism) really enough to adjudge one a member of the Church, especially in the light of present day realities where we see a lot of baptized Christians joining Cult groups or Religion, deflecting to other Churches or even backsliding completely into the ATR?

Do we go on and wed them and have them receive the Holy Communion on the day of their Wedding or receive full Christian burial when they die? If not, how do we detect/ delineate the real members from the non active members and where do we go from there?

How do we handle the problem of monetization of Church membership that is rocking a big havoc on the Church of Christ today? As the financial demands from the Centre heighten, many Parish Priests strategize on how to make ends meet. Many Parish Priests/ Organizational arms now collect fat sums of money from these non active members in order to administer the Sacraments, for instance of Matrimony. Should we just welcome them that way and reply in their marriage bans that they are good Christians or send them away? Can our Canonists reinterpret better in our own context the impediment of DISPARITY OF CULT? When we find a candidate unworthy/ unprepared for the Sacrament of Matrimony, what do we do? When a dead man is neither a full member of the Christian fold nor completely a non member, what do we do? These are very serious pastoral problems that we can reflect about on this Good Shepherd Sunday. Of course, the bishops of every diocese reserve the final jurisdiction on these matters.

In my Parish, I have developed a data base for the assessment of my Parishioners with the following 5 parameters of judgment of active membership; 1. Attendance of Meetings of the Organizational Arms ( CMO, CWO, CYON), 2. Attendance of Sunday Services ( Morning & Evening Bible Study), 3. Attendance of Daily Morning Mass, 4. Attendance of Pious Societies, 5. Financial Contributions.
* I try to use the services of Senior Seminarians on Apostolic work every year to update my records. I refer to the above data for clearance for home members and to the Abroad Catholic Community for clearance on matters that have to do with abroad members.

D. THE DIVINE WORD ASSEMBLY
Jesus says very emphatically in today’s gospel that ‘The Sheep that belongs to me listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me’. The Penny Catechism teaches us that ‘A Christian is one who is baptized, who believes and lives out the teachings of Christ’. So, mere baptism is not enough.
In today’s 1st reading, we see the practice of the early Church (continuing from the traditions of the Jewish culture) of going regularly to the Synagogue and taking their seats to listen to the Word of God. In the Catholic Church of today, attendance to ‘Uka mgbede’ (Sunday Evening Service) is going down terribly and I am sorry to say that the priests themselves are generally not helping matters. It is a very unfortunate development because even our African traditional religion knew better the need for spiritual dialogue. ‘Otobo’ was the place for this dialogue at the village square with the ‘Igbe’ as a scenario full of wooden seats where people sat down and listened to the wisdom and good counsels coming from the elders.
The good Sheep is today called to follow Christ the Good Shepherd by ‘hearing his voice’ through listening to homilies from priests, bible study, catechism classes, Sunday Evening instruction, marriage course, retreat talks, etc.
May and October devotions are gradually dying down. Our Pious Societies are gradually going into extinction. Many Christians enter the Sacraments without proper catechesis ( especially the Sacraments of Confirmation).

E. CONCLUSION
The number of Christians being led astray is growing; following false prophets, entering into bad covenants with evil spirits through sorcery, divinations, and oath taking before dangerous deities.
We need good Shepherds in the Church who will feed the Sheep spiritually, intellectually and otherwise so that they won’t need to be running about for help elsewhere when they have normal life challenges like sicknesses, childlessness or financial setbacks.

We need to develop good strategies for the assessment of both the Shepherds themselves and their flock. The Church needs to sit up now with her pastoral discipline before it is too late. Happy Sunday dear friends!

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