Last year, on the Friday before Good Friday, we discussed how the Father had consecrated Christ and sent Him into the world as one of us, in order to consecrate us. This year, let’s ask this question: Why did the Jews pick up stones to throw at Jesus? (This time, that is—i.e., at the end of John 10, the gospel reading for tomorrow’s Holy Mass.)
Because the Lord had declared openly that the Father had consecrated Him to serve as the divine Shepherd. ‘My sheep hear My voice, and they attune their little ears to the authority of Absolute Truth.’
Today I concelebrated the funeral Mass of the mother of one of my best friends. Nothing can focus a person’s mind like the sight of a casket draped in a pall. The ideas that kick around in our minds—the imaginations, the memories, the thoughts about what I’m going to have for dinner: these items get separated from each other into two categories, like sheep separated from goats, while you prayerfully stare at a casket draped in a pall, sitting in front of the altar.
Which of these bouncing ping-pong balls in my mind harmonizes with the voice of Christ the divine Shepherd, the voice of Truth? And which do not?
God rest her soul. She rested her soul, during her earthly pilgrimage, entirely on the words of Christ. So the sight of her casket, draped in a pall, sitting in front of the altar: it gave us all great peace. The divine Shepherd leads His flock to a safe and blissful sheepfold; we can trust Him with our very lives.
In fact, when we have the opportunity to pray at the altar, with the casket of a holy woman, draped in a pall, before our eyes—at such moments, we realize this fact very clearly: We would be utter fools not to entrust our lives completely to Christ our Shepherd!
Because everything, in the end, comes down to such a moment. We are only going to live through so many NCAA tournaments. Then the great separation will occur. Our souls from our bodies. The sheep from the goats. The wheat from the chaff, when it comes to whatever we have filled our minds with.
If my mind is full of chaff at that moment, how dark will the darkness be, when I find my body encased in a casket, draped with a pall?
But: if we hearken to the words of the divinely consecrated Shepherd? Well, then there will be peace. The moment of genuine, complete, and utter fulfillment will have arrived. ‘Well done, faithful little sheep. Enter into joy.’