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Newsletter of St. John the Apostle Parish

April 2024

Dear Parish Family and Friends,

For fifty days, from Easter Sunday to Pentecost, the Church continues to fix its attention and its heart on the risen Jesus and to re-invoke his appearances. The appearances generated and strengthened the certainty that Jesus’ resurrection was not a grand fantasy or a pious wish of remedying the bitter disappointment of his death.


This is what the sentence in the creed means when we say, and he rose again according to the scriptures. It was the appearances of the risen Jesus, eyewitness accounts by real people. 


Even though Jesus no longer belonged to the physical world, nonetheless these people really did see him: Mary Magdalene and the other women; Peter, James, and the other Apostles who ate with him; and a great number of Disciples. From their experience, we are reassured that “the Lord has truly been raised” (Luke 24:34). The victory of Jesus over death is the heart of our faith, which otherwise would be empty.


Just as during Lent when our Lord revealed himself through the images of living water, light of the world, and the fount of Life, the revelations continue after Easter Day. Two Disciples were taking a journey to a town called Emmaus when an unknown traveler appeared and talked with them about what they had experienced in the last few days in Jerusalem. They invited him to stay and eat with them. When he blessed and broke the bread and gave it to them, they recognized him as Jesus. The risen Lord celebrated the Eucharist with them: he read and expounded the Word, explaining that all things are summed up in the mystery of his death and resurrection, and, as at the Last Supper, he offered the bread, which is his Body. 


The Apostle Thomas would not believe the others when they said they had seen the risen Lord.  He wanted to see and touch the marks of the wounds on his hands and side. “Do not be unbelieving Jesus said, but believe, Jesus proclaimed, Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” And Thomas’ response was a wonderful confession “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27-29) 


Jesus uses the image of the Good Shepherd. The Lord selected and applied this image to himself, an image that God had reserved for himself in the Old Testament. Jesus fulfilled this image, giving his own life to save the lives of the flock. I am the good shepherd! he proclaims. “A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Jesus did this by dying on the cross. And now that he is risen, he guides us personally; he knows us by name and takes care of each one of us. Jesus even looks for us when we are lost. When we read psalm 23, we read “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.”


Jesus gives the title of Good Shepherd to Peter. Before his ascension into heaven, Jesus entrusted his Disciples to Peter, and asked Peter to love him more than all the others. Peter would represent him and feed, as Jesus calls them, his lambs, and his sheep. In Fact, Peter does not own them; Christians belong to the Lord. But the Apostles will make the Lord visible, near to them as their Good Shepherd. From Peter this mission, which is a grace and a service of love, has passed to his successors the Bishops of the Church who are a sign of Christ’s presence.


We will have the privilege of greeting our Episcopal Visitor, Bishop Patrick S. Fodor when he makes his visitation to our parish on Sunday, April 21st. May we find the image of the Good Shepherd in all the bishops of the Church. Bishop’s who feed and care for their flock. It is only through the guidance of the Good Shepherd that we can get the strength that we need to be true witnesses to the Living Water, Light of the World, and the Fount of Life.


Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!


In the risen Christ,

Father Wirth, Rector

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