Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies

(MIssale Romanum 1970) 

Look upon Your flock, kind Shepherd, and be pleased to settle in eternal pastures the sheep You have redeemed by the Precious Blood of Your Son. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

This post-Communion prayer highlights the promise Christ makes to us in John 10, a portion of which is read as today’s Gospel (lectionary Year A): “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (cf. Jn. 10:10, RSV). This abundant life of which Jesus speaks consists in enjoying God forever in the “eternal pastures” of heaven. The feeding analogy here in this prayer after Communion should not be lost on us, for Holy Communion is the beginning of life in heaven where we “feed” on the inexhaustible glory of God’s presence and enjoy His friendship. (Cf. Bl. Columba Marmion, OSB, Christ in His Mysteries, p. 358).

As we are unable at this time to receive the Blessed Sacrament, we rely on God’s kindness in nourishing us with His grace as we make “Spiritual Communions.” Let us use this time as opportunistically as we can by exercising our desire for the “eternal pastures” of heaven. There, God will wipe away all our tears, and provide super-abundantly for us (cf. Rev. 21:4-6). 

This post-Communion prayer also highlights the means by which this feeding in the “eternal pastures” is possible: Christ’s Precious Blood shed for us on the Cross. In Gospel for lectionary Year B on Good Shepherd Sunday (next year), we hear about this truth in another selection of John 10: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.....No one takes [My life] from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from My Father” (cf. Jn. 10: 11, 18, RSV). I am always struck by the boldness and frankness with which Our Lord foretells His freely chosen sacrificial death and His mighty and glorious resurrection.

In view of the plain teaching of the Scriptures, we see that Christ’s redemption is not one path to God among many. Rather, His satisfaction for our sins is the only and exclusive way to the Father, as He Himself and the apostles testify throughout the New Testament. Jesus Himself is quite plain during the Last Supper: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me” (cf. Jn. 14:6, RSV). In today’s second reading, St. Peter cuts to the quick in his sermon on Pentecost morning, clearly proclaiming Jesus as the universal Saviour, both for Jews and Gentiles.

Since Christ is our only Savior and the Good Shepherd, we ask for the grace of obtaining the fruit of his unique redeeming sacrifice, namely, the “eternal pastures” of heaven. We are asking Him, by implication, that we might also remain faithful to Him to the last, i.e., the grace of final perseverance. Every Good Shepherd Sunday affords us an opportunity to plead with Christ to defend us here below from the wolf of our souls, the devil, and so to convey us safely to heaven, laying us across His shoulders like a lamb. May Eastertide buoy us up with greater trust in the power of our Risen Lord to do just that! (cf. Marmion, Christ in His Mysteries, pp. 362-70). 

(David Allen)

Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.


About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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