Sunday, July 22, 2018

Shepherds. Gifted or Giving? (2018-07-22)

16th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B

••Jeremiah 23:1-6     •• Psalm 23  •• Ephesians 2:13-18  •• + Mark 6:30-34  ••

Title:  Shepherds:  Good. Gifted. Giving.

[__00__]   The shepherd is supposed to care about – and care for – the environment, the people in his or environment or ecosystem. The shepherd is a servant and is called to care not for superficial appearance but for how things really are.
          A shepherd cares. Jesus the Good Shepherd cares for us.
          I’d like to reflect on this ecosystem & Gospel, in 3 parts :
          “PRIUS” ecosystem– Toyota
          “PASTOR-SHEPHERD” ecosystem– church & family.
          “PERSONAL” ecosystem -
[__01.1__]    1st. THE PRIUS ECOSYSTEM.  The Toyota Prius Effect.  (Freakonomics Blog, “Conspicuous Consumption and the Prius Effect” April 21, 2011)
            Several years ago (in April 2011), Toyota sold its 1 millionth Prius hybrid [car] in the U.S. In 10 years, this strange-looking [car] vehicle with the revolutionary engine has claimed a spot among the best-selling cars. Pretty impressive.
            But, some researchers have noticed something …
            Honda, Ford, Nissan and other car makers sell hybrids, but you can’t pick (discern)  them out on the road (the Civic hybrid, for instance, looks just like a Civic). The Prius is unmistakable (distinct appearance).  It marks whoever is driving it as someone who cares about the environment; it’s an act of “conspicuous conservation,” ….
            ….  A sort of “keeping up with the Joneses”-type concept but applied to efforts to make society better. I [compete] with my neighbors to donate to a charity, for instance, or to reduce energy conservation or environmental impacts.
[__01.2__]     The Toyota Prius researchers were trying to discover if people are really willing to sacrifice, say, comfort for the sake of a healthy environment if no one notices.  Some people – I’m not saying any of you do this – buy the Toyota Prius to get noticed. Just an example. I’m not anti-Toyota or anti-Prius.
            But, the goal of our lives is not to be SUCCESSFUL or SEEN, but to be SAVED.
            It’s not about how things look, but how things are. Or, in another way, not about being GIFTED but being GOOD.
            The readings today are about virtue and being good, even if we do not get noticed.  It’s a message to shepherds not limited to priests.
            The message of “woe to the shepherds”  (Jeremiah 23:1) or [warning to the shepherds] is not a just a pop-up-ad on our screens, but personal call to our consciences, and for the ecosystem and habitat of the church.
            To remember that speaking the truth, or sacrificing ourselves for another and real SALVATION is not being being GIFTED but being good. Not about being VICTORIOUS, but being VIRTUOUS.
            Parents, you - as shepherds - teach your children about care and caring for others – people + environment/ecosystem – but not just to get noticed or known. Not to show that they are GIFTED, but to give without counting the cost.
            It is better to give than to receive.
            It is better to give than to be gifted.
            All of us need prayers in our calling to be guides and shepherds.  
            On the morning of my high school graduation, I awoke with a huge hangover, and had drunk way too much the night before with my friends, illegally, immaturely, of course.
            And, my mother and father went to the events of the day. I was turning various shades of green. Not green like a Toyota Prius, the other green.  That was on the outside (exterior).
            On the inside, I felt even worse and also felt embarrassed, guilty. And, I was guilty.
            But, this was not about how it “looked” …I had to come to terms what it really was.
            What I recall, also, that my mother and father betrayed absolutely not one quantum-particle of embarrassment or guilt to be with me. This was all on me. And, they were nice to me that day. They did not complain or seem bothered in the least to be seen in public with me.
            It was an example to me of GOOD SHEPHERDING. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. This was an example of GOOD SHEPHERDING.
            They got me in and out alive from high school graduation, cap and gown and diploma. I even went to college.
            Later, my father gave me a serious talk about taking responsibility for my actions and the consequences that alcohol, partying can have. You might miss something important.
            He was honest. He did not ask my opinion. He did not ask me how this happened. I think he asked me what I drank and if I knew how much.
            He was straight with me and it made all the difference.
            In other words, it does not matter – James Ferry - how SMART you are. You can still SIN.
            It does not matter how GIFTED we are. Goodness is more important.
            Or how SERIOUS and SUCCESSFUL we are. You or I can still lose our souls or hurt someone else.
[__04__]  Jesus is not the [►GIFTED] shepherd. He is the good shepherd.
            Jesus is the giving shepherd; he is not the [►GIFTED] shepherd.
            Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leads us to streams of everlasting life and who lays down his life and gives us an example so that we may go and do likewise, to make a true gift from ourselves, of ourselves..


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