May 15, 2011, is the Fourth Sunday of Easter.
Many commencement ceremonies are, like Benedictine College’s, on May 14. That makes May 15 the first day of summer for many.
With summer comes the call of the road, and the Hoopeses are planning another major expedition. For the past two Christmases, we have driven 24 hours west to California. This summer, we are heading 24 hours east to Connecticut. We will be traveling in a van with eight kids and one dog. Here are three free Hoopes trip tips:
Deploy DVDs Wisely. We have bought in-car DVD players for use during our mega car trips. But we have learned to use them sparingly. We don’t want the kids to get bored and then descend into that distracted, irritable state of TV overload from which there is no return. So, our schedule is: After the breakfast excitement wears off, bring out books on tape. As these start to lose effectiveness, lunch. After lunch: music (we bring musicals like Beauty & the Beast and Fiddler on the Roof and contemporary family favorites). After music: Rosary on CD. We save the DVDs for the afternoon.
Give Assignments. At each stop, we all have assignments: There are trash men, dog walkers and child helpers. Anyone watching our van pull to a stop will see a procession of busy children marching out, each to his or her appointed task.
Eat Pizza. Pizza is by far the most economical on-the-road food, we have found. With a big family, it requires less effort to sort out orders, it causes fewer fights and less frustrations, and it keeps very nicely if you don’t finish it all right away. The biggest hassle for our family — and for the people behind us in line — is a Subway sandwich shop on the road. And, when pizza is unavailable, chicken nuggets are the next best option.
Acts 2:14, 36-41; Psalm 23:1-6; 1 Peter 2:20-25; John 10:1-10
Today is Shepherd Sunday, when we again review the ways Christ is like a shepherd.
He is a guide. He is a protector. He prods us back when we start to go astray. He leaves the 99 behind to search for us when we are lost.
Today’s Gospel takes it a step further. The Shepherd’s is the voice we recognize. He prevents impostor sheep from taking over. He even compares himself to the gate of the sheepfold.
But let’s not forget the Easter mystery that makes our shepherd who he is: He is also the Lamb.
We are used to the paradoxes of Christ: He is creator of the universe — and the babe in the manger; he is the priest — and victim at the sacrifice; he is the Alpha and Omega; he is Our Lord and our brother. Add to that: He is the Good Shepherd — and he is the Lamb who was slain.
Yes, it is amazing that a shepherd would lay down his life for his sheep. But Christ went even further: He is the shepherd who became the lamb. He lived as a lamb, showed the sheep how to be lambs, and then died as a lamb.
This is even more extraordinary when you consider what sheep are like. They are not sweet and smart. They are obstinate, hard to train and often unpleasant to deal with. For a shepherd to become a lamb is an extraordinary act of love. For a shepherd to die as the lamb is even greater.
In today’s second reading, St. Paul makes the connection to the Crucifixion explicit: “He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”
We can take great confidence in the Lord who appears in heaven as a Lamb who was slain and on earth as a Good Shepherd, standing at our side to guard us.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College and editor of the college’s new publication,