Today is often called Good Shepherd Sunday because we hear from the Gospel of John in which Jesus reminds us that he is the “Good Shepherd” who never abandons his sheep. He assures his disciples, and us, that there are others who claim to lead the sheep but will run away at the first sight of the wolf because they are hired hands. Jesus pushes the metaphor forward and says, “I am the Good Shepherd and I know mine and mine know me… and there will be one flock, one shepherd.” Jesus reminds us that we are all one flock, every one of us who claim to have Jesus Christ as our leader. We needed to be reminded of that message of unity, especially this week.
Today and yesterday, we celebrated the 65th anniversary of our parish and the 60th anniversary of our school and we celebrate that we stand on the shoulders of so many who built this Church and School. But we not only stand on their shoulders we stand alongside them, alive and dead and honor their contribution to the ONE community we have here. We stand with them in solidarity with all Catholic communities and Christian communities throughout the world who claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior and by doing so we promise to continue their good work of building up the kingdom of God here in this generation. If you listen to some of founding mothers and fathers of this parish you will hear of the many challenges that they faced and the many powerful liminal experiences they had in building this community and working together to reach out and serve others in need. It is truly inspirational to listen to those stories and I encourage you to attend the Tribute to St. Simon Community at 11 am today where the video will be introduced. Due to it’s length, the link will be shared and we invite you to watch the whole video at some time and listen to our shared history. The link will also be shared on the St. Simon website on Monday.
This celebration today cannot stop with just listening to the stories of old. It must call us to action too. It must call us to bring the gospel alive into our generation today. It calls us to our own liminal experiences and allow them to transform our lives today. As we start to come out of this pandemic and start to rebuild our local community, it will not be the same. It cannot be the same. We are all different after this last year. We have shared a common trauma that has multiple layers to it. It will take time to unpack everything that has happened to us, but we cannot go back to the way it was, nor should we.
The Latin word limin means threshold. So, a liminal experience is some sort of experience that we have moved through and have a transformation. I believe that we are in the middle of a liminal experience as a country and community. Not just because we have a new pastor but because this year of the pandemic has turned everything upside down. There is no going back to the old ways even though we harken for them. We have to allow this moment to transform us not just as a community but as a nation. We cannot let this collective liminal moment slip past us without letting it transform us.
This week we saw with the verdict of Derek Chauvin in his murder trial of George Floyd that he was, in fact, guilty of murder. We all knew that was true when we saw in that horrific video a year ago. We all saw that video when we saw the breath of life leave George Floyd’s body as Chauvin kept his knee on his neck without a single emotion to the human being at his knee begging for mercy. We must not let this moment just pass as if it is another ordinary moment. We must allow it to be a liminal moment that transforms us into a people who fights for justice for all people especially those of color who experience prejudice and bigotry. We must vow to eradicate any and all traces of racism from our society. It is not enough to say I am not racist. We must become anti-racist and fight for the rights of all who are persecuted and fight against any false claims in our society and in our hearts. Christ is the one true shepherd of the one flock, and we need to listen to his voice of compassion, his voice of love and forgiveness and bring all people of all creeds and all colors together in one shared humanity. That is our commitment as a people of God who follow Christ as our leader. That happens first in our hearts in this liminal experience. It is uncomfortable but all liminal experiences are when they are happening! Still we must allow it to transform us nonetheless.
Now to something a little lighter. I invite you to join us for another Wine + Word session on May 8 for Mother’s Day weekend. This is a zoom call in which Christine Moore, our parish sommelier and I will chat about the different liminal moments that transform our lives especially the love of our mothers while we chat about Rosé and Albariño wines along with a Pinot Noir. It is just $100 for a set of all three wines and that includes a donation to charity of $30. So come and join us by signing up here.
Finally, every Good Shepherd Sunday we take up a second offering in support of our retired priests pension fund. The good news our retired priests are living longer but the challenge is that our retirement fund for priests is way underfunded, so please give a gift to support all our retired priests. Donate here. Thank you.