Monday, April 22, 2013

Good Shepherd Sunday

Yesterday in the Church is known as Good Shepherd Sunday, at least in recent times*, since the Gospel passage is taken from John 10, where Christ asserts, "I am the Good Shepherd "  The propers of the Mass thus relate to this theme. Here is the Collect:
Almighty ever-living God, lead us to a share in the joys of heaven, so that the humble flock may reach where the brave Shepherd has gone before.
 Now, here is the Gospel, from the Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, rather than the New American (just because I can). Now, it doesn't actually say, "Ego sum Pastor Bonus," which is really confusing to me.
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
Clearly, Jesus is following up on the Bread of Life discourse in verse 28, as he said in John  6 that we must eat of His flesh and drink of His blood to have eternal life, and those who eat and drink of Him shall not perish.

Verse 29 is reminiscent of a more familiar passage in John, who is particularly adept among the Evangelists at linking passages. From John 14:
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.
Now, the English translation doesn't emphasize the verb in these passages-John 6, 10, and 14- which is one that really angered the Jews at the Bread of Life discourse (compounding the supposed cannibalism). That verb would be 'to be.' See, English only has one kind of verb with a multitude of forms. 'I am' just doesn't cut the mustard seed (hardy har har, I referenced a parable!)  when referring to God. However, YHWH does if you are God Himself.  It perfectly expresses the divine reality. God is. God does not merely exist. God was not created. However, our language fails to fully account for this. Hence, English has multiple forms of 'to be,' which follow a plethora of rules.

By the way, our deacon drew on the whole chapter and more in his homily. The problem with this reading is not only is it quite a bit removed from his actual declaration, it's quite short. Too short for most priests today I fear.  The deacon gave an excellent homily. Very Jesuitical in its use of the three points.

It was World Vocations Sunday, so please make sure you pray for Francis our pope, Joseph our bishop (and your bishop!), and all the clergy. Please pray for young men, especially altar servers, who are called to the priesthood, and especially those who either don't know it yet or are indefinitely prevented from answering.

Oh, and yeah. This is the elephant in the room. We need to pray for both men who have occupied the papacy. Benedict asked for our prayers so that he might not flee in fear of the wolves and could be the Good Shepherd. He did not flee. He just is being the Good Shepherd in a mysterious way. But the threat to both men is still there. The Church is sick in a way. The Institutes for the Works of Religion AKA the Vatican Bank has been corrupted, from the inside and top-down no less, for eight decades, and it does laudable work managing the money and assets of religious orders and other institutions of the Church. The Roman Curia has many good and holy people-like Cardinal Burke- but the Italian majority is resistant to reform, and something tells me that there is something hidden.

*NB: This is the 2nd Sunday after Easter i.e. the week after Quasimodo Sunday/Low Sunday/Divine Mercy Sunday, in the traditional form of the Holy Mass.

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