Be the leaven of God’s mercy everywhere!

Given by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde on Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter for the annual Catholic Business Network Mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington.

One of the most widely-used and widely-known images of God - and, therefore, of His Son Who came to reveal Him to us - is the image of the Good Shepherd. In Jesus' time and also in ours, a good or true good shepherd cares for his flock deeply; guarding them, feeding them, leading them, seeking the ones who stray, and carrying them back to the fold. As I said, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the image of the good shepherd abounds.

Yes, God Our Father is the Good Shepherd, caring for us with all the tenderness and love which mercy expresses. Jesus Christ, sent to reveal the Invisible God and Himself God, is the Good Shepherd, made present and visible to us in ways which we can understand. Today's Gospel passage gives us Jesus' own description of who He is as the Good Shepherd, revealing how His Father and ours, invisible, loves us as a shepherd.

Let me invite you to reflect on several lessons we can take for our spiritual growth from today's Gospel passage.

Jesus tells us that the gatekeeper opens the gate of the sheepfold for the good shepherd, the one who knows them and whom the sheep know. How do they know their shepherd? They know his voice and because they do, they trust him and follow him as he leads them out of the sheepfold for the day's journey.

The voice of someone we know and love is very special to us. We do enjoy hearing that voice: We smile and we rejoice! When that voice is no longer present, how we miss hearing it!

The Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus, is speaking to our hearts. He speaks to us, first of all, through His Word in the Scriptures. Do we listen? Do we reflect on His Word? After all, He speaks to our hearts, so that we can have life and have it more abundantly.

The Good Shepherd speaks to us also through the successors of Saint Peter, the popes, and through the successors of the Apostles, the bishops. This is the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Good Shepherd is speaking to us through Pope Francis. Our Holy Father reminds us that "Jesus Christ is the Face of the Father's mercy," that we must open our minds and hearts to the outpouring of this mercy, and, that having experienced Divine Mercy ourselves, we must then share that same mercy with others, especially those most in need! He points to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy for practical ways by which we can pass on mercy. Every baptized person is called to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd and to follow what He says and to do what He does.

Dear members of the Catholic Business Network of Northern Virginia, the Good Shepherd is speaking to your hearts, inviting you to experience for yourselves the superabundant mercy of God, yes, through daily prayer, but also through the Sacrament of Penance, the sacrament of Divine Mercy. The Good Shepherd is also inviting you to use your talents and giftedness, your institutions and companies, in order that His mercy, made tangible and visible by you, touches and transforms the lives of others and becomes a leaven within our culture!

God's mercy is intended for every human being, as the first reading makes clear: "God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too." Catholic Business Network Members and all disciples: Listen to the Voice of Mercy and become His heralds!

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016