Sermon for the Second Sunday after Easter – April 15, 2018 by Fr. Paul Alvarez Norton
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
In the middle of Paschal Time, the Church gives us the parable of the Good Shepherd or literally, the Hands-on Shepherd because the Greek texts say kalos and not agathos. Obviously beauty, goodness and truth are identifiable with one another. So the title of Good Shepherd is appropriate. This is the most personal parable that Christ gave us, or rather the only parable in which He describes Himself. In the other parables He speaks of God the Father, and then He is the Son, the One the Father sends to the evil employees and who is killed by them. But this parable begins with the pronoun “I”. I am the Good Shepherd. It is noteworthy that this is His portrait and through it Christ implicitly says that He is God. For that expression, “I am”, directly refers to the Yahweh that Moses heard on Sinai. And also the name “shepherd” is a tribute to Yahweh by the prophets.
Here Christ applies this expression to Himself and even takes some verse from Isaiah, Ezekiel and Zacharias. And He inserts a personal addition saying one thing about Himself that the prophets could not say about God, the Good Shepherd gave His life for His sheep which is the ultimate proof of love as He has said elsewhere. When Christ decided to institute His Church He took the disciples to the city called Caesarea Philippi, the City of Caesar. Caesarea Philippi was called during the Greek time, Paneas, due to the association with the false god Pan.
This false god was represented as half man/half goat and he was considered the god of mischievousness and debauchery and from his name is derived the word panic. The whole city was surrounded by altars in order to offend. In the year three before Christ, Philip II, the Tetrarch, decided to transform the city into the administrative capital of his large tetrarchy. So spiritually and temporally it was a very important city. In that precise city surrounded by images of false gods and confronting the power of the emperor who pretended to be a god, Christ asked his disciples to recognize Him as God and King. St. Peter, as head of the disciples, recognized the authority of Christ to rule over the spiritual and temporal aspect of human society. This has been the teaching of the Church always.
And how does Christ rule society like a shepherd? In the forty days before His Ascension, Christ assumed the role of comforter as St. Ignatius says; that is to say, that of a good shepherd and magnanimous king. He did not rebuke the apostles who had abandoned Him in His passion because He saw that they were repentant – only to St. Peter who was to be the head does He ask for a retraction of his three denials. But He does so in a kindly way, “Do you love Me more than these others?” This was a question that possibly also was a trick, a test, for the braggart Peter who had answered before without hesitation, “Yes, Lord, I love Thee more than anyone”, as in fact, he had already done. Remember what he said that Holy Thursday night, “Although all shall be scandalized in Thee, I will never be scandalized”. But the converted Peter responds perhaps with tears, “Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee”. He does not say “more than anyone”. He passed the test.
So this will be the government of Christ in this world and in the world to come. The Politics of God and the Government of Christ, as Cabello says – Don Francisco de Cabello de Rejas wrote a book on Christian politics precisely with that title. In it he describes the politics of Christianity when they were already lost in some nations and when they were beginning to become lost in Spain, Cabello recalls with longing the altar of government, the politics of Christianity, that is, of Christ. And for whom did Cabello write?: for posterity, but posterity has ignored him. Let’s say instead that he wrote for eternity for which all the great thinkers write. And if we talk about great thinkers I cannot fail to mention one of the greatest Catholic thinkers of the last century, Professor Plinio Correa de Oliveira, who dedicated his entire life to the defense of kingship of Christ on the rights of His Church and human society. His conception of Christian politics is nothing at all but the application of the principles of the gospels in society, principles that are translated into the human community based on two main concepts: the hierarchical order and the harmonious sacredness of the Kingdom of Christ. Certainly in order to contemplate God we must contemplate the order established by Him. This order is profoundly hierarchical.
St. Thomas Aquinas described this concept in a certain way in the first part of his Summa Theologica, Question 2, Article 3 where he talks about the quinquennial viae. In the cosmos which in Greek means order, the happiness of the human being is a response of fidelity to the vocation to which the Creator calls him. This is nothing more than the path to holiness. A few days ago talking about vocation someone gave me an excellent example. The most beautiful human creature created by God was a woman, Our Lady, and she passed her whole life doing in silence and with humility what a mother does in her home. Once we understand this we can appreciate the sacredness of all that surrounds us and mainly the sacredness of the organic structure of the Christian society which is the only way acceptable, established for the salvation of the human being, because a Christian society par excellence is the Church and as we know, outside of the Church there is no salvation, Extra ecclesiam nulla salus. This is why no Catholic can grant any right to error, that is sickness, to false religions. Imagine if we put health and sickness, truth and falsehood, wisdom and ignorance on the same level. How can we believe then in democracy that says that power emanates from the people and not from God? Impossible. How can a Christian accept that the vote of a criminal is equal to that of an honorable man? How can he admit something of good when temples are being built to worship Satan justifying it in the name of religious freedom and democratic principles.
To put a state and democratic journey over Christ is the same thing that the Jews did when they rejected the Kingship of Christ, shouting, “We have no king but Caesar”. This is the schizophrenia of the modern world and more than schizophrenia, it is the impulse of Thanatos, that is, death drive, as was said by a madman who knew a lot about perversity and whose name I won’t mention here. It is the longing for suicide that today knows all of liberal Europe. And what is the liberalism? Liberalism is the idea that stupidity deserves a fair chance. It is like a doctor telling his patients, Excuse me, but we can’t give you this medicine because it will make your cancer disappear, and the cancer also has the right to exist. Ridiculous, right?
This is why Professor Plinio Correa de Oliveira in his time of necessary fight for counter revolution to seek a return to the sacredness of society, honor, dignity, traditions and in short, to the order established by God in which the Church possesses the rights of superiority over the temporal order. In short, the government described by Don Francisco and Professor Plinio is simply the government of the Good Shepherd. We can only continue to pray to God for this great restoration so that His Kingdom may come to us because only He can give us a solution to the crisis in which we find ourselves today. However, we can also do something else. We can govern ourself in our small organic society through the politics of God and the government of Christ which is the government of justice, charity and beauty of the Handsome Shepherd. We can strive to have in our souls a thirst for justice, a continuous relationship with God through charity, and the admiration of beauty. Such things can be accomplished even by the humblest of us.
In these times of the Catacombs, let us focus our efforts on the circle of our family so that He may reign in it and preserve it from the blight of error and corruption. King and Shepherd, Son of David, who also was a shepherd and king, let Thy mercy be upon us as we have hoped in Thee, and as the Hebrew psalm says, Father recited in Hebrew: –“Guide us through the valley of death in Thy company and under Thy staff we shall fear no evil.”
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.