Without Jesus, we are scattered sheep. It is Christ alone, sent from the Father, who is the instrument of unity for the world, and particularly for the Church. CCC 845 To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled.”
We see this in the theme of today's Gospel, centered on the image of the Good Shepherd. Our statue outside the Parish Education Center is based off one of the earliest images of the Good Shepherd, depicted as a young man, painted on a wall in the catacombs of the Church of Rome before Christianity was legal. That shepherd carries not just one individual sheep, but also carries all of fallen humanity, carries the whole church back to reconciliation with the father.
And the Good Shepherd, Jesus, does this by His Cross. The Sacrifice that Christ freely made of Himself, “laying down His life, and taking it up again” in the Resurrection, is the source of our restoration, our unity, and our hope. Without Jesus, we are just scattered sheep at lost in our world and ensnared or even devoured by its desires. With Jesus, we are united in love and led through Him the Gate into everlasting life.
The Sacrifice of Christ unites us. Sacrifice must also be present in our lives. Your priests, all priests, must live like the Good Shepherd. We must sacrifice, freely and continually choosing to lay down our lives for you. Without that, we are building on a false foundation. So pray for your priests as they pray for you. Parents, families, must be founded on sacrifice – on daily choosing to give up everything for each other in love – or the “house” of the family will crumble.
The Sacrifice of the Cross remains present in our world. It is not some past event, but is remembered forever in the Mass and received in this greatest of sacraments. CCC 1396 the Eucharist makes the Church. Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body - the Church. Communion renews, strengthens, and deepens this incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism. In Baptism we have been called to form but one body. The Eucharist fulfills this call.
The Eucharist makes the Church because it is the sacrament of love, of sacrifice, of “laying down one's life” for another. Let this great sacrament draw us together, unite us as one flock under the One Shepherd, and bring us into the pastures of everlasting life.