TEXT: 4th Sunday of Easter, May 12, 2019

May 13, 2019 Father De Celles Homily

 4th Sunday of Easter

May 12, 2019

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA


 “Mary had a little lamb,

whose fleece was white as snow.

“And everywhere that Mary went,

the lamb was sure to go.”


When I was a child, I really believed that that nursery rhyme

was about the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus.

I mean, after all, she was the “Mary” I heard the most about.

And Jesus was the Lamb of God.

And He was absolutely pure, His soul, His fleece, “was white as snow”

And of course, when He was little He followed His mother wherever she went.


But then I got older, I discovered that it was actually

was only written in the 19th century by an American Protestant,

writing about a little girl named Mary Sawyer,

who brought her pet lamb to school one day.

So much for my youthful piety.


But it was still a pretty good instinct.


Last week I preached about how Jesus,

in a sense, in order to become the Good Shepherd

first had to become the Lamb of God:

not only the sacrificial lamb,

but the innocent and docile lamb before His Father,

hearing His Father’s voice and following it:

“not my will, but yours be done.”


And in like manner, Jesus had to become Mary’s little lamb

before He could be our shepherd.

God entrusted His Son to Mary, to tend and feed and love.

And it was Mary’s voice that He followed and obeyed when He was a little boy,

but even in some sense as a man.

For example, at the Marriage Feast at Cana,

it was to Mary’s voice that Jesus responded

to perform His first great public miracle at the beginning of His ministry.

And even now, He listens to her voice when she intercedes for us.

Albeit, not to follow or obey, but in love and deference.


Today, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, is called Good Shepherd Sunday,

and in the gospel Jesus speaks to us as a Shepherd.

Now, we know that when He ascended to heaven

he left other shepherds to tend his flock on earth in his name

beginning with St. Peter and the Apostles,

and today, their successors, bishops and priests.


But the thing is, just as Jesus had to be a Lamb to become our Shepherd,

if Christians are to truly follow Christ,

to be the sheep who hears His voice and follows Him,

we must all be not only sheep, but, in some way, we must be shepherds like Him.

We must all care for and tend the sheep of His flock.


And Mary is the prime example of this.

She was God’s little innocent lamb, that God cared for in an especially tender way,

from her conception and throughout her life.

all so she could grow up to be His mother, the shepherd of her little Lamb Jesus.

And being His shepherd when He was a child,

she is, in a certain sense, our shepherd,

and the role model for being Christian shepherds for Jesus.


She has been this for us right from the beginning,

since she was there in the upper room, for the apostles at the first Pentecost.

Of course, Peter and the Apostles were the authoritative shepherds

installed by Jesus to lead the flock,

but in a certain way, as the mother of Christ, and the mother of His Church,

she was, like a motherly shepherd of the apostles.


Of course, all this month of May we remember this in a special way.

And tomorrow, May 13, we remember particularly how 102 years ago

she came as mother and shepherd to 3 real live shepherds,

3 little shepherd children who lived in Fatima, Portugal 100 years ago.

And there she came to protect the world against the sin,

and especially against the false shepherds of atheism, particularly Marxism,

encouraging us to listen to the voice of Her son, to follow Him, repent and pray.

And she called on these simple little children to become shepherds in Christ

first by sharing with the flock of the Church what Mary had told them

and second by doing so with the innocent example of faithful little children,

Jesus, and Mary’s, little lambs.



Like a shepherd, in the upper room with the apostles,

with the children at Fatima,

and with every single Christian for 2000 years,

the Blessed Mother has protected her little lambs.

And all this she did as part of her God-given role as Mother of Jesus,

and Mother of His Church: mother of all of us.

Because that is what a mother does:

she cares for the little lambs that God entrusts to her.


As I say, all of us are called to be shepherds, in some way, in Christ.

In this month of May we remember the unique Motherly way Mary lives this vocation.

And today we, as Americans, remember how all mothers share

in this vocation in a similar way.

Like the Blessed Mother Mary, all mothers are shepherds.


Like a shepherd, our mothers protect their lambs.

Of course, they protect them from

natural disease, hunger, ignorance, the cold, and harm.

But in Christ, mothers are especially called to protect their lambs

from wolves posing as shepherds, trying to lead them astray

especially those trying to lead them away from Christ;

whether its atheist or false Christian prophets,

or even the prophets of the secular society of the West

—the culture of our own often hedonistic society.

Like a shepherd, a mother must protect her children, especially from

–false notions of Christ and His Church

–false notions of right and wrong, good and evil

–distortions of the dignity of Women, and of men and family

–lies promoted about the meaning of love and sexuality

–complete perversions of the fundamental dignity of human life.


Just as the Blessed Mother came to Fatima to protect her children, her little lambs,

from  the rising atheistic and secular culture,

today’s mothers also have to protect our children

—grown up children and babies, born and unborn—

from the devastating effects of that culture come to full bloom.



Today, let us thank the Lord for the gift He gives us, of the good shepherds

who are our good, faithful and courageous bishops and priests.

But let us also thank Him for the gift of His Mother, who protects us

and comes to us in our hour of need, calling us to follow her son.

And let us thank Him for entrusting us to the gentle and loving guidance and protection

of our natural or adopted mothers on earth.


As we enter more deeply into the mystery of this Holy Mass on this Mother’s Day

let us pray that all mothers may always hear the voice

of the one true Good shepherd calling them to Himself,

and that under the protection Our Lady of Fatima,

they may lead us and all the world to Him.

And let us pray that He may give them the reward they deserve

for their tender care for us:

loving and devoted families on earth,

and eternal happiness