4th Sunday of Easter (A)
May 15, 2011

I am old enough to look backward to more years than I can look forward to … I remember the old people of my youth who used to lament the fact that “young people ( that was us!) behaved differently than they used to.” They were complaining then, that  “times have changed.”

Back in the day, we were introduced to Cicero’s famous oration against Catiline, way before Christ was born (63 BC) … Cicero railed against the times and customs of the day: O tempora! O Mores! He was beside himself with ill concealed disappointment as he thundered his rhetorical question: “ubinam gentium sumus!” “Where in the world are we?”

Where in the world are we? Today’s readings essay a response … a reminder for who we really are, and where we really are … We are a sinful people, moving about in a world filled with the “contours of hopelessness,” brought about by sin and its effects on the soul otherwise created by God in His image and likeness!

To say over and over again that we live in the midst of corruption is to belabor the obvious. And the best example is not the politicians atop their high horses of power, prestige, and position, but each and everyone of us! Yes … you and I! Let me enumerate the ways we contribute to a world of corruption, the very same corruption we denounce with might and main …

You and I are co-opted by the relentless “media moment,” by the never-ending “noise” that masquerades as news. You and I are held captive by everything that is purveyed by the world of entertainment. You and I can no longer sift what is false and what is true. We just take what mainstream media doles out to us … relentlessly … manipulatively …

You and I are the ones who take everything that mainstream media says, “hook, line, and sinker.” You and I are the ones who fall for the propaganda machine of the powers-that-be and uncritically accept as dogma what is tyrannically passed off against a supposed “tyrannical” Roman Catholic Church, that imposes its rules and dogmas on people.

It is you and I who are blinded by the glitz and glamour of crass materialism, and by the dizzying pull of a digital based world of social networking 24/7 that occupies most of our waking (and even sleeping) thoughts. It is you and I that elect spineless leaders whose only passport to leadership is popularity and pedigree.

It is you and I who continue to patronize dehumanizing TV shows and programs that pretend to help the poor by taking advantage of their very poverty and crass ignorance. It is you and I who prop up the ratings of tyrannical media outfits who control public opinion, through carefully designed and well-timed press releases and relentless attacks against anyone and any position that runs counter to their editorial line and political agenda.

Yes, you … and yes, I, too, am a part of this “massa damnata,” children of sinful Adam and Eve, who are deeply steeped in the culture of Eden, more than being attuned to the culture of Calvary.

But there is hope for you and me. The drama of Eden might still be holding us in its grip, but the drama of Calvary, and the even greater and definitive drama of the Resurrection have broken the chains that bind us to darkness and sin forever. Let Peter be our guide. He wrote: “Let the house of Israel know for certain that God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

The chains that seem to bind us are legion … Everywhere, there is prejudice and hardness of heart. People who claim loudly to be Catholics continue on espousing ideological lines that run patently counter to official catholic teachings. People who claim to be religious continue to hatch out plans to kill as many people as possible all in the name of God. People who openly claim to call on Jesus as Lord really follow the voice of foreign governments and pharmaceutical companies who have the wherewithal to lobby and pay for lavish parties at five star hotels, while claiming to fight for the rights of the poor. You and I continue to allow ourselves to be manipulated by media whose only real concern is not the welfare of the poor but their ratings.

Yes, we live in a world tainted and weakened by sin. Yes, you and I are part of that sinful culture.

And this, by the way, is the reason why we are gathered here today. We acknowledge our sinfulness. We confess our sins and failings. But doing so does not mean we now have the license to go on our merry and sinful ways. Doing so simply means we are going to try our level best, to struggle with God’s help, towards becoming holy, which in Matthew Kelly’s definition simply means becoming a better version of ourselves.

And this is the good news … in our journey towards becoming what God expects us to be, the Lord Himself acts as good shepherd. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.”

But there is one thing you and I ought to do. We need to follow the right shepherd, he for whom the gatekeeper opens the door of the sheep. Many false prophets vie for our attention now … prosperity, wealth, popularity, ratings, surveys, and so-called “scientific studies.” They try to lead through means other than the real door and make us climb over elsewhere.

At no other time in our history as humans, do we need to be discerning … At no other time do we need to really choose whom to follow. At no other time in our progressively complex world do we need the voice of the shepherd, who acts in and through His Church on earth, to guide us in ways that lead to life, life in its fullness. At no other time do we need the guidance of the Church … when so many false prophets continue to sway public opinion.

I ask my readers … be aware that you and I can both matter. You and I can make a big difference. And you and I will be well advised to listen to the voice of the shepherd who tells us: “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture … I came so that they might have life and have it to the full.”

We need the guidance of the Shepherd, in our struggle to "save ourselves from this corrupt generation."