We celebrated the consecration and turned to the
Good Shepherd in the heart of the Easter season, to hear the voice of the one who laid down his life for us, who knows each of us by name, our fears and dreams, our struggles and hopes, and wants to hear our voices
in prayer and in concern for one another.
By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
On Friday, May 1, the Diocese of Jackson in solidarity with all Catholic dioceses in the United States and in Canada renewed the consecration of the United States to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The following statement of faith and hope along with the opening prayer unfolds the tradition of the centrality of the Blessed Mother’s singular vocation whom all generations will call blessed. “When our Risen Lord appeared to his disciples on Easter Sunday he said: ‘Peace be with you.’ We can be confident that he desires this same peace for all the members of his body, the church, and for the people of the entire world. In this difficult time, we turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace, to ask that she intercede with her Son for all those who are affected in any way by this pandemic. As we renew the consecration of our country and of ourselves to the Mother of the God, we implore her maternal care for her children.
Let us pray.
“O God, Father of mercies, whose Only Begotten Son, as he hung upon the Cross, chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, his Mother, to be our Mother also, grant, we pray, that with her loving help your Church may be more fruitful day by day and, exulting in the holiness of her children, may draw to her embrace all the families of the peoples. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” (John 19:26-27)
Mary’s identity as the Mother of the Church was sealed on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon her once again, along with the other 119 disciples at the church’s inception. (Luke 2)
Earlier in the Gospel of John she was present at the wedding of Cana, the site of her son’s first sign or miracle, where he changed the water into wine. In that moment she was a witness for all who want to be disciples when she said to the waiters, “do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5) These words link the prayer of consecration with Good Shepherd Sunday and the call to hear the voice of the Lord, and to do whatever he tells us. Not as an escape from reality, which is very complicated at this time, but as an invitation to know that God is with us always.
We celebrated the consecration and turned to the Good Shepherd in the heart of the Easter season, to hear the voice of the one who laid down his life for us, who knows each of us by name, our fears and dreams, our struggles and hopes, and wants to hear our voices in prayer and in concern for one another.
The 23rd Psalm, our responsorial Psalm of the day, is a beacon of courage and hope. “Although we walk through a dark valley, we fear no evil, because you are at our side with your rod and your staff that give us courage.” God never abandons the flock. We know this in Jesus Christ whose suffering and death and resurrection are a healing balm for our suffering and the promise of life in abundance. “Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.” (Romans 8:39)
We possess abundant treasures in the storehouse of faith. The grace of God already has led us to the restful and renewing waters of Baptism, to the anointing of our heads and hearts with holy oils, and to the Eucharistic table, filled with life and love in abundance. The Good Shepherd is at our side, in our homes, in all the spaces we carefully navigate. It is true that the borders and edges of our reality are blurred, and life and death are locked in mortal combat for all to see, too close for comfort. Yet, out of darkness and the shadow of death the voice of the Good Shepherd is not silent. May our shelter-in-place and safety at home provide for us a channel to hear his voice and follow his paths. We must drink deeper of the waters of our faith in creative in life-giving ways. It is true that we are scattered and sacramentally separated from the flock, the Body of Christ, the green pastures of our spiritual lives, but the grace and love of the Shepherd remain a living fountain that does not run dry, and already flows upward to eternal life.
We all yearn for the day when we can feast directly at the table of plenty, the Eucharistic banquet, the body and blood, soul and divinity of the Good Shepherd. The time is drawing nearer when we will hear the voices of the communion ritual: “The Body of Christ” and “Amen.” Afterall, Holy Communion with the Lord and with one another is what the Good Shepherd desires for us. But while we wait in joyful hope, let us not waste time fretting over what we are lacking, but rather, celebrating all that we have in abundance in Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. With our Blessed Mother, may our souls also proclaim the greatness of God and rejoice in God our Savior. (Luke 1:45-46) This is our faith and we are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus, our Lord.