Untitled Document
Untitled Document
Myanmar Catholic Church
CBCM
Untitled Document

Live stream Mass By Cardinal Charles Maung Bo., SDB, Archbishop Yangon

We have a Good Shepherd who is inclusive.  A good shepherd who is willing to die for us – “I lay down my life for my sheep.” Jesus said.   How we watched with tear in eyes so many doctors and nurses all over the world, were willing to die for a stranger knowing fully well this menace of COVID is a risk.   They are the good Shepherds.

 

Today the church celebrates the Good shepherd Sunday on the fourth Sunday of Easter. Jesus with the lamb on shoulders is a comforting symbol of good shepherd

May this Good Shepherd carry all those who fell victim to COVID. Streaks of good news breaks through the long weeks and months of COVID Today Church calls us to look at the face of the Good Shepherd. We continue to offer this world to his protection.

Hope breaks forth like a morning sun in many places.   In places like Italy where the virus devastated the people and the doctors alike, it looks like the messenger of death is retreating. The Good Shepherd has arrived in these countries. Many countries are coming out of their lock out.

So pray today.  Come Lord Jesus, Maranaatha.

Good shepherd is an emotional symbol to most of us.  Lord Jesus carrying the lamb on his shoulders is an enduring symbol of the Lord’s unconditional love to all of us.  The symbol and imagery of the Shepherd and the sheep are a running theme in Old and New Testament. There is no more secure, endearing, enabling and en-nobling word in English than the word Good Shepherd.

The psalmist prays with great trust:

The Lord is my shepherd. Nothing shall I want.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff,

They comfort me.

Today more than ever the symbol of the Good Shepherd is so relevant.  For centuries we have been used to meet God in the Churches.  COVID closed the church gates but it could not close our gates of our heart.  Today Christ the Good Shepherd “goes in search of his Sheep.”.   He is a God who encounters us in our houses today.

Yes, he the God who comes.  He is the good shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep.  You have heard Jesus preaching that a Good Shepherd is the one who leaves the 99 sheep and goes in search of the lost sheep.  I have always wondered, if the shepherd leaves the 99 sheep and goes away in search of the lost sheep, what happens to the 99?

Our way of thinking misses the beautiful message of Good Shepherd.  The lost and the least are his primary concern.  “Doctor is needed for those who are sick not for the healthy” he said.

During the COVID pandemic some were asking  the cynical question “ Where is God?  It is not the sheep is lost but the Good Shepherd is lost from the sheep” they said.

Jesus was not the lost Shepherd.   He was the wounded healer.  Henri Noumen the great spiritual writer said that the image of the Good Shepherd brings to our mind Jesus as the wounded healer.   Yes.   He died on the cross for us and healed us.  We were redeemed, as Peter says, not by gold or silver but the blood of the immaculate lamb, Jesus.

That wounded healer is the same Good shepherd today in the form of thousands of COVID patients who are crucified by the merciless virus.  It is the same Jesus who standing near the COVID patients in the form of the health workers with the words from   Ezekiel 34:16 we read he promised “I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak”.

We remember once again the health workers.

They are the Good Shepherds today. Jesus is present in them.    Jesus said a Good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. He is in the form of the doctor.   For a moment think of hundreds of doctors and nurses who died in Italy and America, caring for COVID patients.  Think of more than 100 priests and religious in Italy who died trying to be pastorally present  to the dying patients.  In the bargain they died themselves.  These are the modern Good Shepherds.

COVID makes parts of the world a valley of death.   More than 2 million infected by this disease and more than 200,000 died.   The most powerful nation on earth has seen more than 60,000 people died.  People are terrified of the fragility of life.   Many parts of the world is in lockdown and some places look like the valley of bones with numerable deaths.

What is the message we derive from this moment of darkness?

From the book of Ezekiel, Chapter 37, God brings Ezekiel to a valley full of dry bones in a dream-like vision.  He is commanded to carry a prophecy and the bones connect into human figures, then become covered with flesh and skin. God reveals the bones as the People of Israel in exile and commands the Prophet to carry another prophecy in order to revitalize these human figures.  Ezekiel has been chosen to resurrect them and to bring them to the Land of Israel.  The fundamental lesson of this story is when the spirit of God is present, his people are enabled to live.

That spirit of the Lord is the Good Shepherd.    That pastoral spirit is needed to stand against any evil including the evil of virus.   Jesus comes back to blow the spirit of life into every one of us.

Our leaders today need to be Good Shepherds, rich people need to be good shepherd to the poor and the needy, medical professionals need to be Good Shepherds,  priests and religious need to be Good Shepherds, every Christian is called to be a Good Shepherd.   Around us, in our cities and towns, there are people like lost sheep.  Let us not worry too much about self protection but let us stand in pastoral solidarity with our suffering people today.

I am grateful many of our Christians in Myanmar have become the good Shepherds. Many are distributing food and protective materials.  Many religious are preparing personal protective materials for health professionals.   A central coordinating committee is responding both to the pastoral and social needs of all our brothers and sisters in Myanmar. When we are our brothers’ keepers then we become good shepherd.

When disasters strike we come together.   I remember during Nargis time, the Christians were distributing food to the Buddhist villages and Buddhists were seen saving Christian villages.   We forgot out differences and we join as human beings. Compassion becomes a common religion.   Jesus as a Good Shepherd taught compassion is most sacred value.

“I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They      will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.  (Jn 10:16).

The virus did not discriminate any religion, race or rich or poor.  It attacked every one and now we know what it means to belong to the great flock of humanity.  This is not the time to discriminate.  Our Good Shepherd urge us to see all suffering brothers and sisters in Covid as my brother and sister.  This inclusive love is Jesus love.

In John Drinkwater's historical drama “Abraham Lincoln”, a woman says to Lincoln: Mr. President, have you heard the good news? In the latest battle we suffered 800 casualties and the enemy 2700. How splendid."

“Splendid,” replied Lincoln, “that 3500 souls are lost?” Oh, Mr. President, she said, you must not look at it in that way. Only 800 of them counted.

Replies Lincoln: “Madam, the world is much bigger than your heart.” Lincoln taught in a few words what it means to be inclusive – even the enemy counts – dead or alive.

We have a Good Shepherd who is inclusive.  A good shepherd who is willing to die for us – “I lay down my life for my sheep.” Jesus said.   How we watched with tear in eyes so many doctors and nurses all over the world, were willing to die for a stranger knowing fully well this menace of COVID is a risk.   They are the good Shepherds.

COVID brought the best and worst of human beings.  The best we saw in the medical professionals.  The worst we saw in people who protest against cautionary measures and put everyone to risk.   Christ was not only the shepherd.  But when the time came he himself became the sheep.  “Behold the lamb of God!”.   In John 1:29, John the Baptist sees Jesus and exclaims, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

Jesus is the lamb that was slaughtered on the Cross for our Sins.  The ultimate sacrifice.  Covid demands that redemptive suffering from many.  This is the challenge most of us face.  The virus of indifference to others suffering is one of the greatest dangers looming large during this pandemic.  Christ who was the Good Shepherd never hesitated to become the lamb of sacrifice.

Christ never demanded anything which he never did in his life.

“You call me Master, and Lord; and you say well, for so I am

For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also. (Jn 13:13)

Pope Francis has proved to be that Good Shepherd.  When the Vatican Basilica was closed, Pope chose other means of being a Good Shepherd.   His Urbi et Orbi and his daily reflections till today expresses how deeply he knows the pain of those forgotten in this pandemic: the prisoners, the refugees, the displaced people.   Not a single day passes without his moving sermons consoling the suffering humanity.

COVID exposes our hollowness of spirituality, our hollowness in relationships.  A virus has made many selfish.    For those who seek the security of selfishness Bible brings another kind of sheep.  In the last judgement scene those who lived with compassion, those who took care of others are identified as ‘Sheep’ and they are rewarded for their merits done not to God but ‘to the least of my brothers’.   “Goats” are those selfish people who had no time for others.  They are consigned to eternal fire.

To Lord Jesus the Good Shepherd stands at our doors and identifies each one of us as the ‘sheep” and “the Goat”.    COVID has already classified them.    Before the judgement day, when the Good Shepherd stands as a Judge, let our sprit be cleansed of selfishness and make us worthy of the Lamb.

Attachments area

 


2020-05-02 04:48:46
NEWS AND EVENTS