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Easter Season Reflections: Eddie Treviño

A wonderful part of being Catholic is that we celebrate Easter as an entire season for 50 days.  Before I became Catholic ten years ago, Easter was just a day.  The Protestant church I was part of did celebrate Lent, and actually did Lent very well for 40 days (plus Sundays) with additional prayer services and choral music.  Then Easter came and went all in one day.  I love that Easter is longer than Lent on the liturgical calendar, and that Each Sunday of the Easter season has its own special meaning related to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In the gospels we read how various people encountered a risen Jesus in different ways.  In the gospels of Matthew and Mark Jesus first appeared to the women, followed by the eleven disciples.  In Luke he appears to some followers on the road to Emmaus and later breaks bread with them in a post-Resurrection Eucharist.  In John’s gospel we have the scene where a disciple with doubts, Thomas, will only believe if he sees and touches the wounds of Jesus.  It really is marvelous how Jesus encounters everyone differently.  He meets us where we are at, and he is always ready to be close to us any time we need him. 

This Sunday is the fourth Sunday in the Easter Season, and the readings focus on God as a shepherd.  The 23rd Psalm is read (sung) again as it was five weeks ago during Lent.  “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want (shall lack nothing)”.  The gospel reading, John 10: 1-10, isn’t a resurrection encounter, but rather a passage read within the context of Jesus’ resurrection.  Have you ever seen an actual shepherd?  I do not ever recall ever actually seeing one in person.  It has only been in movies, art, and church pageants that I have ever seen anything representing a  shepherd.  The word sheep appears over 200 times in the Bible, and is the most referenced animal.  In Jesus' time shepherds and sheep were a very common thing.  People could relate easily to the reference.  Not so much today, except in art, films, television, and the perennial Christmas pageant. 

What do you think of when you hear the word shepherd?  A good shepherd knows each and every sheep in his flock by name (John 10:3).  He knows each one’s personality and quirks.  Interestingly, in the gospel reading, Jesus does not refer to himself as the Shepherd, but the gate.  Jesus is the TRUTH.  As Christians we should want to follow that truth.  It is so easy to find untruths in the world, there are so many lies that surround us.  I won’t dwell on that here, because we as followers of Jesus, his sheep, believe in the power of his resurrection and the truth that he joyfully brings to each one of us.

Each one of us, myself included, has at some point believed that we can control every aspect of our lives, that we can control, or at least prepare, for almost everything that comes our way.  Western society has placed much emphasis on the industriousness of the individual, that no one can get in my way.  I recently overheard on television someone saying something along the lines of “be the author of your own truth”.  In all honestly I don’t even know where to begin in deconstructing all the fallacies of that statement.  How does that type of thinking fit within the context of what Jesus is teaching us?  I love that God gives us the freedom to make our own choices.  That truly is a wonderful gift.  I love that God has given me the gift of my own individuality and freedom.  It is when we abuse that freedom that we actually become shackled to our own confines of our own forms of relativism.  Our “personal truths” become too much of a burden to bear.  Why begin to ask why the world doesn’t see everything the way that I do.  Then sadness, bitterness, and even anger begin to take over.  The good news, the greatest news, is that there is so much freedom in simply letting go.  Hand everything over to God.  Let God be your shepherd.  

Almost two years, at the beginning of June, my father-in-law and grandmother died within four days of one another.  As much as my wife and I planned and prepared for these imminent losses, we were not prepared that their deaths would occur so closely.  This was something for which we mentally and practically prepared.  We knew that we would eventually have to re-arrange our lives and work schedules around these family losses, but that was something that was somewhat within our control.  The morning my father-in-law died we called the funeral director, as we had planned, and he showed up immediately to meet with my wife and her brother.  It all seemed to work very efficiently.  We were sad about my father-in-law, but were relieved that he was no longer suffering.  A few days later, my grandmother in Texas died and I had to leave my wife to settle things in Connecticut without me so that I could be with my family down south.  When I returned we still felt grief, but we seemingly regained control of our lives and carried on.  Then exactly four weeks after my father-in-law died, my brother-in-law, the one who met with the funeral director earlier that month, died in a motorcycle accident.  Needless to say we were devastated.  As much as we believed we were in control of our own lives and schedules, as much planning and preparati