Fourth Sunday of Easter - Fr. Adam Royal
April 25, 2021 - 11:00 AM
An essential truth of our faith is that God created us to be happy. I know I’ve probably said this many times, but I think it is essential for us all to get this idea. Our God is perfect and infinite. That means he doesn’t need anything. Whatever is required for him to be happy he already possesses. It also means that he can never be more happy. He already has happiness in the infinite degree. So when God conceives of the idea to create us, he necessarily gains nothing from the act. That means he creates us for our sake. Which is to say the sole purpose of our existence is to be happy; it is to receive God’s infinite unconditional love and know the joy that the experience of that love gives.
This idea, is the essence of the image of the Good Shepherd. Even though we were created only for happiness, we are really bad at finding it. We look for it in every imaginable place, in things, in people, in experiences. And it just never seems to work. Left alone, we tend to stray farther and farther off the right path in an endless such for our purpose. God saw this in us. So he came to us in the flesh. He came to us like a shepherd. The straying he nudges back onto the right path. The completely lost he picks up and carries. He even lays down his life to defend us, to offer us the greatest gift of seeing just how much he loves us.
And in all of this we are still free. The Good Shepherd never works by compulsion. Sometimes he nudges us kinda hard, but only because he loves us and he knows that only his path will lead us to where we truly want to go. But the choice is still ours to make.
Today we no longer see our shepherd in the flesh. But he did not abandon us. He left us the Church. He left us the apostles and their successors. The Church has a lot of rules. She seems to have an opinion on almost everything. It can be overwhelming. And, if we are honest, at times we all disagree with something. Because of our life experiences, the influences of people around us, or whatever other reason, there can be certain claims of the Church we just don’t understand or can’t accept.
And that is ok, so long as we don’t allow it to remain there. The Church only teaches what our Good Shepherd has revealed to us. Her rules and formulas are not rooted in a will to control, nor are they arbitrary dictates of people obsessed with some ideal existence. They are the path that Christ laid out for us. They are the path we were made to walk on and the only path which can lead us to true happiness. So while it is ok that we struggle to accept or believe certain things, it is essential that we struggle. To struggle is an act of faith; it is faith seeking understanding. So wherever we are in life, whatever our challenges, let us all turn and listen to the voice of our Good Shepherd who stills speaks to us through the Church and let us follow him on the one path to life and happiness.