Give Him your heart

4th Sunday of Easter 
Beloved in Jesus Christ, today is Good Shepherd Sunday in which we are reminded that Jesus is this Shepherd, seeking the good for his sheep. Regarding his faithful disciples, Jesus says: ‘My sheep hear my voice and they follow me, and no one can take them out of my hand.’
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In all the Holy Gospels, Our Lord uses many different images and parables to illustrate his relation to us. He is seen as a Shepherd, who searches for the lost sheep and brings it safely home. Our Lord compares himself to a father, whose son goes off and get’s into bad trouble; but when that son changes his heart, the father is waiting to receive him home. Our Lord says he is like a doctor, who wishes to cure we, who are sick; he uses many images to convey his relation to us, but he speaks most directly in chpt. 15 of the Gospel of St. John, when he directly calls us his ‘friends.’ ‘No longer do I call you slaves, but I call you friends.’
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This dear Lord loves us even before we loved him. As St. John says, ‘We love – because he first loved us.’ (John 4:19) Fr. Joseph Schryvers says, Jesus is concerned about each individual soul, each person, more than the whole world. In fact, Christ on that cross, had – has, each and every individual person in his heart, in his concerns.
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Well if this is the case with everyone, what about the person who chooses to give their whole heart to Christ, who lives for him, tries to please him in their daily life – what about this person? If we think of a true friend, we will see that if we pour ourself out for that friend, the other will return the affection all the more.
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St. Catherine of Sienna had a number of mystical conversations with Jesus; on one occasion, he said to her: ‘Catherine, think of me, and I will think of you.’ By this he meant, if you give yourself to me, I will never fail you, I will be with you in sickness and in health, I will guide you on the path to salvation and to greatness. I will never leave you.
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This is the Lord’s attitude when one gives oneself totally to him; Jesus immediately assumes the obligation of helping this person, and he showers his favor on him. God is not miserly in returning love, he is way-generous!
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Speaking of those who give themselves to him totally, he says; ‘give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap.’ In the parable of the talents, the person who did the most with his talents – who gave his all for God – his talents were multiplied, and the master even gave the talent of the miserly man to him. The heart of God is wounded with love, when he sees that we give him our heart.
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A little boy had a game that was the most precious thing to him, and everyone knew it; but when he heard that his uncle was in trouble and very sad, he went to him and said: ‘I want to give you a present,’ and he gave him his game. I needn’t tell you the affect this had on the uncle’s love for his nephew. When someone gives their all to us, they then have our heart. But it takes trust to give our heart.
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During the time of famine, when the old widow gave Elijah the last morsel of her food, God made sure she never went hungry again. While we should be prudent and make plans in life, we should be reckless in our trust and love of God, because he will reward us.
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When Jesus was walking on the sea, Peter immediately wanted to do the same, and with child-like trust he did it, it was only after doubting, that he began to sink. For those who show confidence in the Lord, he feels bound to defend them. Against the envious, he shielded the new convert Zacheus; against cruelty, he defended the repentant adulteress; when his hungry disciples plucked grain on the Sabbath, he stood up to the Sadducees to defend them; and above all, he protected Mary Magdalene, the sinner.
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This woman of sinful fame, having decided to give her heart to Christ, enters a stranger’s house, goes to the dinning room, and in front of all the important guests, kneels down and washes the feet of Christ. For this humble act, this conversion of her heart in front of all, Jesus would never fail her. He would defend her against Martha who said she was lazy; he would defend her against Judas who said she was wasteful. And for her love, Magdalene would have the privilege of seeing him in the resurrection, even before the apostles. Jesus will always protect and reward those who give him their heart.
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Giving oneself to Christ means doing his will in every moment; as it is written: ‘this is love for God: to keep his commands.’ St. Augustine said[i]: All who do not love God are strangers and antichrists. They might come to the churches, but they are not among the children of God, the fountain of life does not belong to them. A bad person can have baptism, a bad person can receive Holy Communion, though unworthily; a bad person can have the name of Christ and be called a Christian. But to have love and be a bad person is impossible.
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Friends, it is not so popular to give away one’s heart these days; a type of cynicism has entered the world, a lot of distrust. But there is one Person who will never let us down. He is worthy of our heart, because he has already given His to us.
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We conclude by going to Mary. O dear Blessed Virgin, pray for us, that we will never count the costs, but give our heart entirely to Jesus Thy Son.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Margaret of Cortona]

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[i] Homily 7 on the 1st Epistle of St. John

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