Some said they felt cold, while others said they felt warm and tingling. Yet others said they felt their hearts beating so fast. Some youths even fell. These were some of the things that happened when Fr Martin Arlando, parish priest of the Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) Penang, prayed over about 100 youths and two expectant mothers at the healing session of the Mass for Youth and Expectant Mothers. After having a Mass for Men and another for Women, Fr Martin decided to have one more Mass especially for the younger members of the community and included even those not yet born but carried in their mothers’ wombs. The Mass was held at 8 pm on the 9th October, 2015 and began with Praise & Worship carried out by three Youth Leaders. All youths from 19 years and below including those over 20 years (parents and other adults, all being children of God) were asked to join in an action song. They were told the significance of lifting their arms to God as any young child would lift up their arms to greet their parents. This gesture of love was being extended to our heavenly Father in appreciation for all that has been done for us.
For the gospel reading Fr Martin decided to use the text from the Gospel of St John on The Good Shepherd (John 10:11-18). In his homily, Fr explained that although we often say we will do incredible things for the one we love (like walk through the hot sands of the Sahara and swim through shark infested waters) in reality, we decide otherwise (will see you the next day only if it doesn’t rain). But this is not the case for our God who gave up his life to save us. Fr Martin explained that our God shows us four types of love. First, there is Passionate Love. He is the Good Shepherd that laid down his life for us. This is a pure and passionate sacrificial love even though we are sinners and he gets nothing in return. A hired shepherd will not do this. In time of danger, he will run away and not rescue us. We often see this in the many leaders and popular people around us like politicians, musicians and movie stars. Most of them have their own agenda and will not stand up for you when there is risk to their own well-being.
Secondly, there is Personal Love. The Good Shepherd said, “I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father. Because of this I give my life for my sheep”. He created you in your mother’s womb so he knows you very personally. Because of this, you have never been unloved. Even in your weaknesses he still loves you. This is clearly seen in Psalm 23 of the Good Shepherd where he confesses the all the ways he will love and protect us. To know Jesus’ personal love for us is to be transformed in a relationship where we know his voice and follow him.
Thirdly, there is Persistent Love. Other sheep not from his flock will also come to him and he will lead them too. He will always seek and embrace us as he wants to have a relationship with us, to save us. To sense his love always there for us to experience it, if we allow it. We begin to sense and feel this when we evangelize our faith as we feel his presence with us.
Lastly, there is Powerful Love. Jesus has said, “I lay down my life in order to take it up again.” Being Catholics we have risen with the Lord and our lives have been transformed into a new humanity. We are now witnesses of God’s love for us. As the king of love, no one loves us as Jesus loves us. We need to pray that we always experience this powerful love of Jesus in ourselves and in others around us. Fr Martin then led the congregation into a meditative prayer experience focusing on the picture of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. In picturing the person of Jesus as a rag man taking on all our faults, sicknesses, weaknesses and pain on to himself in exchange for a new and better person of ourselves. In doing so, offering his grace to console us and to be more like him for ourselves and others in our family and community. At the end of mass, there was benediction and individual praying over by Fr for all the youths and the two expectant mothers. All were then invited for a potbless in the church hall.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
15th October, 2015