Alleluia: Good Shepherd

Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
August 17, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/081722.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is
living and effective,
able to discern the reflections
and thoughts of the heart.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Ezekiel gets another tough assignment from God:

The word of the Lord came to me:
Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel,
in these words prophesy to them to the shepherds:
Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel
who have been pasturing themselves!
Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep?

Ezekiel 34: 1-2

With prophetic insight, Ezekiel understands that Israel’s corrupt leaders will cause its downfall. He takes on the unhappy responsibility of summoning them – and the people – to repentance and conversion of heart.

By comparing Israel’s kings and princes to shepherds, Ezekiel points out how their leadership is a perversion of the ministry to which they have been called. He tells them that God won’t put up with their malfeasance because God has a tenderness for the “sheep” – particularly the struggling ones.

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I swear I am coming against these shepherds.
I will claim my sheep from them
and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep
so that they may no longer pasture themselves.
I will save my sheep, 
that they may no longer be food for their mouths.

For thus says the Lord GOD: 
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.

Ezekiel 34: 10-11

The parallels to our present world are so stark that it’s difficult not to launch into political opining here! But I choose not to because the call within these readings goes much deeper than even current global circumstances.

And it is the call embodied in our Alleluia Verse:

Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern the reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Each one of us is created to live in the sincere light of God’s Word; to discern our relationships within Creation through the ‘living and effective” lens offered to us through our Baptism.

Whether we are leader or follower, these relationships must be built on reverence, honesty, justice, peace and mercy. Only then can we forestall the corporate corruptions that fester in the absence of grace.

The promissory nature of Ezekiel’s oracles articulates what good leadership looks like…in government, in corporations, all through the private sector. That rule consists in:
– Seeking the lost
– Bringing back the strayed
– Binding up the injured
– Strengthening the weak
– Feeding the hungry
In a word, good leadership consists in the restoration of the common good so that all members of the community, strong and weak, rich and poor, may live together in a common shalom of shared resources.

Walter Brueggemann, On Ezekiel 34

In our Gospel, the landowner refuses to be bound by corporate definitions regarding how he treats his laborers. He chooses to be generous, no doubt realizing the laborers’ underlying need for a decent day’s pay. Doing so, the landowner mirrors God whose generosity has granted the landowner life and livelihood.


As we pray today, let’s consider where we serve a leaders, and who depends on our sincere and generous heart for their subsistence. Some of these relationships might be obvious to us – such as the children in our lives, and others whom we support by our presence, care and love.

But others may not be so obvious. There may be others who need us to recognize that they’re waiting to be noticed and invited just like the late laborers of today’s Gospel. Is our world, and our generosity, big enough to include them?


Poetry: Shepherd – Rumi

Be a lamp, 
or a lifeboat, 
or a ladder. 
Help someone’s soul heal. 

Walk out of your house 
like a shepherd.

Music: The Lonely Shepherd – Zamfir

Fourth Sunday of Easter 2022

May 8, 2022

invite

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our three readings make one thing very clear – we are ALL invited to membership in the Body of Christ. We are ALL welcome in the Beloved Community.

In our first reading,  Paul and Barnabas preach to Jews, converts to Judaism and to Gentiles – to the effect that:

All who were destined for eternal life came to believe,
and the word of the Lord continued to spread
through the whole region.

Acts 13:48

In our second reading:

John, had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb.

Revelation 2:9

And in our Gospel, Jesus says:

My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.

John 10:27


These readings describe the family of God to which every human being has been given entrance through the Death and Resurrection of Christ.

Think about that: 

  • when you look into people’s eyes today
  • when you see their stories on the news
  • when you people-watch at the airport or the mall
  • when you drive by a cemetery where lives are remembered in stone 
  • when you look at your children, your friends, your foes
  • when you take that last look in the mirror tonight before you fall asleep

This person has been invited, with me, to the family of God. How might that thought influence my choices and actions each day?

All of us – ALL OF US- are welcome; all of us, equally loved.


Poetry: O Shepherd of Souls – Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179)

O Shepherd of souls
and o first voice
through whom all creation was summoned,
now to you,
to you may it give pleasure and dignity
to liberate us
from our miseries and languishing.

Music: Come Worship the Lord – John Michael Talbot

Come, worship the Lord 
For we are his people 
The flock that he shepherds 
Alleluia
Come, worship the Lord 
For we are his people 
The flock that he shepherds 
Alleluia

And come, let us sing to the Lord
And shout with joy to the rock who saves us
Let us come with thanksgiving 
And sing joyful songs to the Lord

Come, worship the Lord 
For we are his people 
The flock that he shepherds 
Alleluia
Come, worship the Lord 
For we are his people 
The flock that he shepherds 
Alleluia

The Lord is God, the mighty God
The great King o’er all other gods
He holds in his hands the depths of the earth
And the highest mountains as well
He made the sea, it belongs to him
The dry land too, was formed by his hand

Come, worship the Lord 
For we are his people 
The flock that he shepherds 
Alleluia
Come, worship the Lord 
For we are his people 
The flock that he shepherds 
Alleluia

Come, let us bow down and worship
Bending the knee for the Lord our maker
For we are his people
We are the flock that he shepherds

Abundant Life

Fourth Sunday of Easter

May 3, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, Jesus makes a great offer!

ollie
Don’t we all want to live a free and joyful life —- to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Hasn’t this pandemic made us all pause and think about what that really means?

 

 


What if you saw a sign like this somewhere:

advert

We’d all run in to get that deal, right? Well, our Gospel today offers an even better deal … just with a few more strings.

Using the shepherd imagery with which they would be familiar, Jesus tells his followers:

I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

tulpis


So what is the “gate” we must pass through to gain this abundant life?

In our second reading, Peter shows us the answer. In all things, we are to live in pattern of Christ.

Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.
…. For you had gone astray like sheep,
but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.


RG

Living like this, within the Love Who is Christ, we dwell in eternal life – even as we experience the exigencies of our earthly journey.

Let us pray today to grow in a faith like this, one that frees us to live in utter trust, freedom, and holy joy. Let us look into the eyes of God and ask to grow in childlike love and peace.

 

(Perhaps in your prayer today, as many of us are still living at a distance from the life we love, you might want to look at some of your favorite photos. Pray with the joy, delight and gratitude they give you on this day of “Abundant Life”.)


Music: Peter’s Canticle – today’s second reading set to music by John Michael Talbot.

Jesus has suffered for you
To comfort your life within his dying
Dying so that all might live
Bearing our wounds
So that we might be healed

Let all who seek the true path to peace
Simply come to follow in the footsteps of this man
Who laid down his life when threatened with hatred
And so he came to live in the blessings of love
And so he came to live forever

Merciful Jesus – Piè Jesu

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Click here for readings

rgular shepherd

Today, in Mercy,  our readings refer to Christ’s infinite compassion by using the image of a shepherd.

It is an image that, while not completely lost on us, is removed from our daily experience. Within the image, though, are elements which transcend time and culture. These elements become clear as we pray with our Responsorial Psalm 23:

Just as Jesus looked at the crowd with pity – (pietàs – a devoted, compassionate love), so he looks on us. It is love like that conveyed in Michaelangelo’s Pietà, where Mary looks on Jesus with a love we cannot imagine.

rome pieta

Psalm 23
(Jesus sees that we need rest from the things that harass our spirits.)

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose.
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

(Jesus sees that we need guidance in our complex and morally bereft world.)
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

(Jesus sees that we are hungry for deeply spiritual nourishment.)
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

(Jesus sees that we need to be assured that we are deeply loved and protected.)
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all wthe days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want

What assurance, what pietàs, do we most need from God today?
Perhaps these modern images of Pietà will help us with our prayer.

pieta modern
Modern Pietà – Michael Belk

standing piets
Christ Holds the Beloved – Thomas Blackshear

Music: Piè Jesu – Andrew Lloyd Webber
sung here by Lea Salonga & Daniel Rodriguez
(note English translation in lower right)

Like A Shepherd

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Click here for readings

Baruch 5_9 copy

 

Today, in Mercy, our magnificent readings are filled with the beloved phrases of Advent: 

“Prepare ye the way of the Lord”, 

“Comfort ye my people”, 

“Like a shepherd, he feeds his flock.” 

These words paint the background for our redemption: a merciful God is about to touch our suffering, twisted world with transforming Mercy! 

God will comfort, straighten, lift and heal all that is broken in and around us. 

We have much to put in God’s redeeming hands today in our prayer.

Music: Like A Shepherd – Bob Dufford, SJ