St Francis Q&A

Sunday, July 23, 2006

16th Sunday, Ordinary - Homily

Well, in about a week, it all starts. That’s right….training camp for the Washington Redskins! When Joe Gibbs came back as coach of the Redskins a few years ago, I imagined that he found a group of men who were lost. They didn’t have a leader. They were like sheep without a shepherd. I bet that one of the first things he did was to teach them. Teach them about football, about playing as a team, and about being like a family. The primary task, then, of a shepherd, is to teach…to lead others and show them the way.

It is a sad situation when we encounter a group of individuals who are lost…who don’t get it…who are ignorant. The prophet Jeremiah says that they live in “fear and trembling”. Jesus saw this when he saw the great crowds who were lost. They appeared “as sheep without a shepherd”. Christ was “moved with pity” when he saw this. What was the first thing he did? He began to teach them. He began to give them a clue.

He began to teach them about the way. He showed them the way…the way to go…the way to live. He is the Way. He began to teach them the truth….the truth about God, about life, and about us. He is the Truth. He began to teach them the life…the life of the Gospel…a life in love…what real love is. He is the Way.

So, my primary job, as one of your shepherds, is to teach. That is the first task of any priest. I will teach you about Christ. How do I know that what will I teach you will be the Truth? Well, Christ does say in John 14, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (v. 6). But, I look at the Resurrection. No one has ever risen from the dead except Jesus Christ. He is God. He is the Messiah. Everything he says is true. He is the way to heaven….the way to happiness, to peace, to joy, and to love.

Once we get it about Christ, we get it about life. He is God and we are not! Until we see that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we don’t know the way. We don’t know the truth. We don’t know the life. We are like sheep without a shepherd, and it is very sad.

The thing that will probably cause me the greatest sadness as a priest will be when people don’t get it about the Eucharist….when they don’t get it that it is really Him! That it is really His risen Body and Blood under the signs of bread and wine. That God loves us so much that He wants to be in us…in our bodies and in our souls. So, as we receive Jesus in the Eucharist in a few minutes, let each of us pray, “Lord, show me the way. Show me the truth. Show me the life. Show me the love of my heavenly Father.”


  • A Funny story having to do with Shepherding and Fr. Greg's ordination... a little message to be seen in this story as well.

    After the Ordination Mass all the newly ordained priests were to go to various chapels throughout the Shrine to give "First Blessings" to those who wished to receive this very special blessing. The program noted Fr. Greg Shaffer being at 1 particular chapel (can't remember now which one) so all of his "sheep" meandured over to the mentioned chapel to see our beloved newly ordained Fr. Greg. All his "sheep" waited, and waited, and waited to receive something from him. Something we all wanted from him. Something he had that we now needed and wanted. We needed to see him. We saught out the place where we knew he would be, where we knew we could find him. AND HE NEVER SHOWED UP. OUR SHEPHERD NEVER SHOWED UP. WE WERE ALL LOST SHEEP FOR A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME. BUT LOST NONE THE LESS BECAUSE NO ONE KNEW WHERE HE WAS. And then the sheep all started to disperse to try to go find him. some had heard that he was in some other chapel, or maybe in this one. But some "sheep" got feed up and even left without having ever found the true place of their "Shepherd". Needless to say after about 15 minutes Fr. Greg - our Shepherd - was located. And the line was long to see him. Some "sheep" had found him and sent others down to the lost sheep to point us in the direction of our Shepherd. My husband and I joked about how it was kind of amusing how Fr. Greg is starting off his ministry with all his sheep wandering around looking for him. To us that was amusing. And yet thinking back I can see many things about that little confusion about a shepherd and his sheep. How sometimes us dumb sheep all cluster together thinking we are in the right place and get comfortable waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and talking and laughing etc. and don't even realize that our Shepherd isn't there. Sometimes we need to go out and find him again. And yet he is always near by. and there are some sheep who have found him again and come back to get his fellow sheep and point them in the right direction of the Shepherd again. This little story was amusing at the time and yes a little frustrating because some were saying he was over there, or at this other chapel etc. Sheep were going back and forth. But we kept pursuing Fr. Greg's location and eventually found him. Isn't that how it really is sometimes with "Our Shepherd". If we aren't listening and really paying attention we don't realize that our Shepherd is in a different place then where we are, and we have to go find him again. AND WE ALWAYS WILL FIND HIM. WE MAY HAVE TO FOLLOW THE LEAD OF OTHER SHEEP WHOM WE TRUST, BUT OUR "GOOD SHEPHERD" WILL NEVER LEAVE US.
    So Fr. Greg..... a great shepherding lesson you gave without even knowing it !!!

    By Anonymous seeker of truth, at 3:10 PM  

  • Seeker, thanks for the story. Yes, I have heard bits and pieces about the "lost sheep" after the Ordination. I came to find out a short time after I began my blessings that they had incorrectly listed where'd I be (as well as all the other new priests). Sorry for the confusion!

    I remember looking at the already long line at one point, and then seeing a huge "herd" of people (sheep) coming towards me. Thank the good Lord that people started doing group blessings, or I might still be there!

    Great insight to the experience..thanks!

    By Blogger Fr Greg, at 12:09 PM  

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