Dear OSJ Family,

Today, in a special way, we congratulate and offer thanks to our young people of the parish and PREP program that celebrate their First Communion. We are very proud of you and your love for Jesus. Together, with your family and friends, we pledge our support and prayers!

In today’s Gospel on this 4th Sunday of Easter, John the Evangelist writes: “But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”

That shepherd, of course, is Jesus Christ who protects us, cares for us, and leads us to the Father. In turn, the Lord entrusted us, His Church, to our chief shepherd, our pope, who like Jesus leads us and us guides in holiness. We know that Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd (John 10:14). Throughout the Gospels the Lord talks about sheep, goats and shepherds, and He compares the people of God to the “flock of God.” In the image of Jesus, the Lord fulfills the prophecy from Ezekiel 34:23 where God himself promises to become the Good Shepherd who will judge His people with justice. Jesus fulfills this prophecy when He declares himself the Good Shepherd.

But who would lead the flock after Jesus returned to heaven? Jesus said there would be “one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:16). After His resurrection, in a moving and tender conversation with Peter, Jesus assigns His job as shepherd of the sheep to St. Peter, our first pope. Peter becomes the spiritual father of the people of God and the prime servant of Christ’s Kingdom with full authority in Jesus’ absence.

Today, as God’s flock, let us remember to pray for our earthly shepherd, Christ’s vicar on earth, Pope Francis, as well as for Pope Emeritus Benedict, and for all of our Church leaders who are charged with caring for us and leading us in holiness.

A Prayer for the Pope: Let us pray. O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in your mercy, upon your servant, Pope Francis, whom you have appointed to preside over your Church; and grant, we beseech you, that both by word and example, he may edify all those in his care; so that, with the flock entrusted to him, he may arrive at length unto life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

In the Lord,

Fr Phil Florio, SJ