A message from our pastor….
Good Shepherd Church is a very welcoming community with dedicated parishioners. There are many families with children involved in the religious education program. A number of recent projects have made the church and parish hall attractive and functional for religious celebrations such as funerals, weddings and baptisms. I am very happy to have served the parish as pastor for several years.
Good Shepherd Church, rectory and office complex is located five miles east of Highway 13, along Highway 102 as you enter into the village of Rib Lake. Come, and join us for Mass! If you are interested in joining the parish, call or stop in!
Our Mission . . .
The mission of Good Shepherd is to welcome all to spiritual growth through prayer, worship and ongoing formation. Together, formed in the image of Christ, the Good Shepherd, we will tend to the needs of the entire community.
REFLECTION FROM OUR PASTOR
Forgive: The first reading from Sirach caught my initial thinking: “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice, then…your own sins will be forgiven.” As a priest for so many years, one of the most grateful things that I have been ask to do is to forgive sins both at the beginning of Mass and particularly at the sacrament of confession. In order for people to receive that sacrament they must first admit to themselves anything that they have done wrong. So often it is something that they did to another. Often I tell them that they can hardly ask God for forgiveness unless they also are willing to forgive others.
The Gospel of Matthew really demonstrates that. When Peter asks Jesus how often he should forgive one who has sinned against him, Jesus insists that it must be “seventy-seven times.” This means many more times than you can imagine. A king, then, does exactly what Jesus wants. He forgave a person who owed him an enormous amount and was totally unable to pay it. Initially all that the man asked was that the king be patient with him. Unfortunately, however, that same man fails to be patient and forgiving of a fellow servant who owed him much less. Because he now failed to be forgiving, the king reversed his initial forgiveness and punished him severely.
Paul’s letter to the Romans sets things as we should live: “None of us lives for oneself… For if we live, we live for the Lord.” If the Lord is so forgiving for us, we must try to imitate the Lord and be more forgiving. We live in a world in which so many do not forgive but even kill others. Let us pray that we and more in our world will learn from Jesus and ask his help to be more patient and forgiving.
Fr. Otto Bucher, OFM Cap
LAY LEADER OF PRAYER LENTEN REFLECTION:
Being declared “unclean” in any way can be disgraceful. One can only imagine the panic that would set in when a person discovered a sore on them when leprosy was fairly common. On top of that, Leviticus tells that because of the sore, you were required to take certain measures, and appear before a priest to be declared “unclean.” But it is a leper in today’s Gospel that takes a desperate measure and comes begging before Jesus for healing from this disease. It is his words that really stand out for me today, “IF YOU WISH, you can make me clean.” Jesus understands that the leper has the faith to recognize who Jesus is and that He could heal him. He also has the understanding that it is up to Jesus to decide whether he should be healed from leprosy or not. Moved with compassion, Jesus does heal the man. The man, however, in his excitement does not follow through on Jesus’ request to tell no one anything about this healing. He can’t wait to spread the word.
IF YOU WISH. This phrase reminds me of how we should look at sickness and healing today. I went to a healing Mass years ago, and was open to any kind of healing the Lord had for me. I was on a heart medication at the time, and following the healing, the cardiologist said I could stop taking my meds and did not have to return unless complications should arise. God had blessed me with His healing.
On the other hand, my sister Helen was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. We prayed for her, but her answer for healing came in an unusual way. She told me she saw our other sister Patsy who had died earlier from MS and had been unable to walk for a number of years. Patsy got up, walked across the room to her and took her hand. She knew at that moment what God’s answer was for her. She had to accept a different outcome, but was blessed and assured that her death would bring her into a different realm of joy.
Acceptance of the Lord’s will over and above our own—whether it be for a physical, spiritual or emotional healing—is a sign of great faith. We can learn from the leper today and begin our prayers with “IF YOU WISH, LORD.” One thing we can be assured of, is that whatever God’s response is, He will continue to walk with us.
REFLECTION FROM FATHER DEN:
“Me and My Shadow”
The last time I was a “guest” at the hospital I enjoyed the company of a mobile companion which, like my shadow, went everywhere with me—down the hall for a walk, to the bathroom, back to my bed. On its arms it carried bags of medication, nourishment and a place for me to rest and lean on when I needed—a great help in nourishing and making me strong again through the IVs.
Mother Nature has an even better way for Mom to provide health, strength and nourishment for her soon-to-be-born wonder child. The umbilical cord is an indispensable part of your history and mine.
And in the Gospel today Jesus tells about another special “feeding tube.” “I am the vine, you are the branches,” providing us nourishment and health with His Body and Blood in Communion. But in this case the nourishment we receive is not intended just for the person who receives it—you and I are to absorb the Divine Nutrition necessary for us to continue our own Faith Journey, but not grow fat and well-nourished for our own good. No. whatever strength I’ve gained by being well-nourished by the Eucharist, I must share in the form of good works for others: “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit.”
If I’m unwilling to use my Jesus-given strengths for others, then I run the risk—almost the certainty—of being a cast-off branch, ready for the fire.
Be nourished often and well by the Eucharist, Christ’s Body and Blood. Grow strong in your Faith. May the spiritual nourishment and strength you’ve gained not be merely yours, but may we, the Body of Christ, your brothers and sisters, grow strong through your love for us!
Father Dennis Meulemans