SOUL FOOD FOR HUNGRY ADULT COMMUNITIES: April 21, 2013, Fourth Sunday of Easter.
‘Good Shepherd Sunday’:
SOUL FOOD FOR HUNGRY ADULT COMMUNITIES: April 21, 2013: Fourth Sunday of Easter.
If you would like ‘10/10 Vision’, go to John 10:10, where Jesus tells the disciples (=us) ‘I have come that you may have life, and have it to the FULL!’
(And if you want ‘20/20 Vision’ that will light up your eyes and your face, go to John 20:20 – ‘The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the LORD.’ The ‘disciples’ are us, today, in our generation and world. The Risen Lord is with us, too.)
This Sunday, the Fourth of Easter time, our reading is always from John Chapter 10, that chapter that is so full of images of shepherding, and where Jesus speaks of himself as ‘the Good Shepherd’, and as ‘the Gate of the sheepfold.’ For Jesus’ Jewish listeners, the image was all too familiar. God ‘shepherding’ his people was a thread through all their history. And it was an image that they kept very alive,- the covenant that declared ‘Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.’ – the heart of their Jewish faith. The Lord is their shepherd.
THE MEZUZAH is a parchment scroll that is placed in a special container and attached to the doorpost of a Jewish house. It is a daily reminder ― and a public declaration ― of Jewish identity and faith. (It is like our HOLY WATER FONT, also a reminder of our faith and identity). The Mezuzah refers now both to the scroll and to the container.
The scroll contains the first two paragraphs of the “Shema” prayer, declaring the oneness of God, and commanding us “to write [these words] on the doorpost of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6:4-9). The second passage (Deut. 11:13-21) teaches that Jewish destiny, both individually and nationally, depends upon fulfilling God’s will.
This is the first passage on the scroll: (Deuteronomy 6:4-9): 4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
This is the second passage on the scroll,- Deuteronomy 11:13-21) 13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. 16 Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. 17 Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you. 18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
On the reverse side of the mezuzah scroll is the Hebrew name of God, Shaddai. This name is an acronym for “Guardian of the Doors of Israel.”
There is a covenant of love, of total giving, of un-limited love or agapé, between God’s people (us) and our God- ‘our Father’. That’s what the ‘shepherding’ is all about, in God and in our communities: we are a people, a community, a parish where the Lord our God is ‘the guardian of the doors’ of our hearts and eyes and ears and thoughts- of our whole person. And we are a community committed to the same agapé towards one another and towards the whole world and all aspects of human life,- in love with intellectual life, political life, economic life, with art, music, imagination and creativity. ‘I consider nothing human to be alien to me’ ( ‘Nil humanum a me alienum puto’) said the Roman writer, Terrence, in one of his plays,- to the great rejoicing of the gathered crowd.
And in every faith-community of the disciples of Jesus, we have a care for the charism, the gift, of shepherding among us, and give encouragement to those among us who have the gifts for that kind of service of our community,- those currently acting as our ‘pastors’ or shepherds, and those with gifts who might become future ‘pastors’ or shepherds in the community. We pray constantly that the LORD will send us the shepherds we need, here and in other places. ‘Pray the Lord of the harvest that he will send labourers into his harvest.’ (Luke: 10:2)
The Lord is our shepherd. We are shepherds to each other, gathering each other to fullness of ordinary life, along with Jesus our shepherd.
Click here if you would like to read the text of Pope Francis’ homily when talking to priests on Holy Thursday morning, at the Mass of Chrism: it is a wonderful reflection on the meaning of priesthood in the Christian community.
For more on the Mezuzah in Jewish tradition, click here: http://www.aish.com/jl/m/mm/48948731.html