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May 8, 2003 Edition

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Fr. Stillmank -- Word of God, Word of Life
This week's readings
Pope's Prayer Intentions
Third Millennium Prayer

This week's readings
Week of May 11 - May 17

Sunday, May 11, 2003
Reading I: Acts 4:8-12
Reading II: 1 Jn 3:1-2
Gospel: Jn 10:11-18

Monday, May 12, 2003
Reading I: Acts 11:1-18
Gospel: Jn 10:1-10

Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Reading I: Acts 11:19-26
Gospel: Jn 10:22-30

Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Reading I: Acts 1:15-17, 20-26
Gospel: Jn 15:9-17

Thursday, May 15, 2003
Reading I: Acts 13:13-25
Gospel: Jn 13:16-20

Friday, May 16, 2003
Reading I: Acts 13:26-33
Gospel: Jn 14:1-6

Saturday, May 17, 2003
Reading I: Acts 13:44-52
Gospel: Jn 14:7-14

Pope's Prayer Intentions
May General Intention

Mary Mother of Life: That children in difficulty and their caretakers may find in Mary support and help.

May Mission Intention

The evangelization of Asia: That in the local Churches the Holy Spirit may kindle renewed ardor for evangelizing the entire continent.

The Good Shepherd: Lays down his life

photo of Fr. John G. Stillmank
Word of God 
Word of Life 

Fr. John G. Stillmank 

Many images are used in the Scriptures to describe Jesus. He is the Lamb of God, the Bread of Life, the cornerstone rejected by the builders.

We know him as the Son of Man, the Son of God. He is our Suffering Servant, the Messiah, or Christ. He is the Crucified One and the Risen One.

"Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep. Happy are we who are called to be witnesses to his life and to share his name with the world."

Jesus is also our King, and we call him the Prince of Peace. He tells Martha that he is the Resurrection and the Life. We also know that he is the Good Shepherd, one of the other titles he uses to refer to himself.

By referring to himself as the Good Shepherd, Jesus uses an image familiar to the people of the time, to communicate to them the deep care he has for the people God has entrusted into his care - which is all of us. He tells us that his love for us is such that he will not leave us when trouble or danger (the wolf) is near. He stands with us and protects us.

Readings for
Fourth Sunday
of Easter
(May 11, 2003)
Acts 4:8-12
Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29
1 John 3:1-2
John 10:11-18

Often when trouble strikes or our lives experience some difficulty, we might be tempted to ask "where is God in all this?" After all he doesn't knock on the door or meet us at the bus stop. He doesn't walk into our office or sit with us at the breakfast table. We can't see him or hear him; we can't touch his hand or look into his eyes.

Or can we?

Many times when we seek to know the presence of God, it must be done in ways which produce stillness and quiet within us. We have to listen for the Lord, rather than doing all the talking. He is there, like that faithful shepherd who loves and protects his sheep, but if we are busy being noisy we might miss the call of his voice, a call to safety and salvation.

Other times Jesus is present in the people around us, who might bring a message of love and care, a kind word when needed, prayer or other assistance. In their eyes we can see our Good Shepherd watching out for us. Our hand placed in theirs can give us a sense of Jesus' presence and strength.

"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord," we sing in the Sanctus at Mass. These words from the psalms we have come to recognize as referring to Jesus. But what about those people, his followers - sometimes us - he sends in his own name: Christians. We who are members of his Church can be a blessing to others when they are in need. Sometimes other people will bless us, too, by being faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ.

Saint Peter in Acts reminds us through his preaching that there is no salvation in any other name than that of Jesus. Just as no mere hired hand would be able to care for the sheep as well as the Good Shepherd, so no other name has the power and the grace to bring salvation to God's people.

Jesus is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. He is the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep. Happy are we who are called to be witnesses to his life and to share his name with the world!

Fr. John G. Stillmank is Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Madison and pastor of St. Andrew Parish, Verona, and St. William Parish, Paoli.

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Third Millennium Prayer

1. Loving and gracious God,
in your providence
you have brought us to a new beginning,
a new millennium ripe for new evangelization.

2. We praise and bless you, Father.
In renewed faith, hope, and love
we give ourselves to you
that you form us in the image of Jesus,
your Son and our savior.

3. As followers of Jesus
help us to have the courage
to push out into the deep water
and lower our nets for a catch.
Teach us to listen to your voice,
to trust in your word,
to leave everything and follow
in the footsteps of Jesus.

4. By the power of your Holy Spirit
help us to work for greater solidarity
with all people throughout the world.
Enrich your Church with lasting measures
of justice, leading us to true peace.

5. May Mary, Mother of the Church,
intercede for us in our desire to say
yes to all that you, Father, ask of us.

This we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

William H. Bullock, Bishop of Madison

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