4th Sunday of Easter, April 21, Blessing: a Sunday Scriptures blog

“I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:16). This Sunday is traditionally called “Good Shepherd Sunday,” a time when we reflect on the call of our ordained leaders to be shepherds. One of the hallmarks of Pope Francis’ papacy has been his insistence that the ordained shepherds need to be so in touch with those they serve that they should “smell like the sheep.” But recently Pope Francis has been criticized by some of those very shepherds because he authorized a blessing for same-sex couples. He did this in a declaration called Fiducia Supplicans. The Vatican website Dicastery (office) for the Doctrine of the Faith has an excellent teaching about the pastoral nature of blessings, and of this one in particular. Here it quotes Pope Francis: “…when one asks for a blessing, one is expressing a petition for God’s assistance, a plea to live better, and confidence in a Father who can help us live better” (#12). Thus people who ask for this blessing show “their sincere openness to transcendence, the confidence of their hearts that they do not trust in their own strength alone, their need for God, and their desire to break out of the narrow confines of this world, enclosed in its limitations” (#21). This blessing is not to be given in a liturgical setting but in a personal setting only. Thus it is pastoral — a shepherd reaching out to those other sheep who follow another path to holiness than that of sheep in the formal Catholic sheepfold. The opening prayer of Mass today asks that “the humble flock” (us!) “may reach where the Shepherd has gone before.” We express our humbleness as Catholics as we open ourselves to hear about this new blessing. Perhaps this blessing may bring some comfort to the many Catholic families who love their same-sex couples.

Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia; photo by Zebra48bo, Wikimedia Commons

One Comment:

  1. Paulette Weindel

    Thank you for these words on blessings and of blessings!
    May God bless you!!

    from a cpps sister of O’Fallon

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