Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Good Shepherd (2014-05-11)

[__01__]       This Sunday, we read the Gospel of the Good Shepherd:

“the shepherd [Jesus our Savior] calls his own sheep by name and leads them out …” (John 10:__)

The sheep are being led and moved.

Movement and mobility are necessary for the survival of the sheep, of the flock.

In one geographical area, the sheep will find the nourishment of the green grass, but eventually they will move on to a new place to be nourished.

The lost sheep parable of the Gospel Book of Luke tells us that a shepherd will seek out the 1%, the one lost sheep out of a hundred.

Now, when we think of the one lost sheep, we might tend to think of the bottom 1%, the one who is lost, the one with many faults.

We think of the times when we feel sorry for ourselves.

But, sometimes, that 1 lost sheep out of 100 is the 1% that the Occupy Wall Street movement spoke of. That is, the 1% at the top.

[__02.01_-Z-_]   For example, Zacchaeus is part of this 1%.  He has climbed to the top of the ladder with profit taking.  The tax collector is one who is on the move.

He also climbed to the top of a tree in Jericho. Jesus brings him down from there, into the community.

[__02.02_-J&J-_]   James and John the apostles are also part of the 1%. They are on the move with ambition.

Do they, perhaps, resemble those in professional football, the NFL owners and general manages, analyzing and scheming during the NFL draft?  Who should be the # 1 draft / first round draft pick? Who is the greatest among them?

Consider the brothers, James and John. They come to the Lord expecting signing-bonuses and contract-guarantees with places at his right and left in the kingdom of heaven.

To the brothers, James and John, Jesus challenges them… wondering if they have spoken to an agent…

He asks, “are you able to drink the cup that I drink or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” (Mark 10:38)

In other words, to be a disciple – even if we are in the elite 1% -- to imitate Christ the Good Shepherd in our own Christian service and Catholic life, we are called to accept …

  • To accept difficulty
  • To accept sacrifice
  • To accept the cross
  • To love the difficult person

This message brought James and John back into the community of the disciples.

[__03__]   Movement and mobility are necessary for survival. Our Lord, however, is asking us not only to consider our need to move, but also to move together as a community and together in faith with him.

[__03.01_-la naturaleza_]    Driving around West Orange [the “West of Orange”] and Essex County, we are not very likely to encounter the movement of a sheep herd.
However, perhaps, in the WEST of Ireland, or Texas, or the plateau of Haiti or Ecuador or Bolivia, we would encounter a herder or a guide with his or her sheep, cows, cattle.

Isn’t it remarkable how these animals can coexist on the same road with motorcycles, cars, bicycles, trucks?

Crossing from one green meadow or to another, they do so with the unity of the flock and the leadership of the shepherd.

Around here … in Eagle Rock Reservation, South Mountain Reservation and the surrounding roads, things are different.

The deer, the wild turkeys, the bear … they move about, often as individuals or in very small groups. They certainly need to move. It’s crucial to their survival, to their search for food. But, they move at their peril, in danger. Their home and ecosystem is much less stable and secure.

For you and me… are we living in the wild, the wilderness? Or living in the community of the flock?

*** Pause ***

[__04__]   Movement is necessary for our survival too.

Isn’t this also true in our families, in our lives with our mothers whom we honor today in the month of May and the month of our Blessed Mother Mary?

Mothers enable their children to move… this could be physical movement.. but also emotional movement, to express themselves – intellectually, emotionally, with the movements of the heart and mind.

A mother not only knows her child by name but also anticipates his or her next move.

At times, mothers are able to step in .. at times, not. But, nevertheless, isn’t it part of the responsibility and instinct of a mother to know her child’s moves and patterns.

Our mothers have not only been concerned with our he present but also with our future.

Mothers pray for reunion, for reconciliation with children to whom they may be separated due to tragedy, to circumstance …

A mother’s love reflects God’s love for eternity.

[__05__]   We survive by continuing to move.

Thus, our calling – our baptism – our initiation – reminds to accept first that we are sinners and are in need of repentance, conversion. This is one of our first movements.

By these acts of humility, we allow God to call us by name.

By turning away from sin, from injustice we are tuning in to God’s voice.

By trying to love and lay down our lives for the other person, for another person, we are imitating Jesus the Good Shepherd.

As shepherd Jesus knows our name and anticipates our next move, hoping that our next move will be to turn to him in prayer so that he can help us to find the gate, to find the door to verdant green pasture and to restful waters beside him.


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