Thank you for praying with me as we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the 4th Sunday of Easter. This is also Good Shepherd Sunday, as you will be able to tell by the prayer:
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. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
The prayer seems pretty short this week, but it has a lot to tell us about being sheep.
I want to start, though, with the Accrue or the “so that.” I love it when the prayer has this section. “So that” is a conjunction that tells us that the action of this phrase is not possible on its own, it is dependent upon the “Do” of the prayer.
Today we learn that to reach where the Shepherd has gone before us depends on following his lead.
Reflecting on this prayer, brought to mind a well-known “sheep chapter” of the Bible. Well, it’s probably mostly known about God being our Shepherd, but it has a lot to tell us about being sheep. That chapter is Psalm 23.
In his Commentary on the Book of Psalms, St. Robert Bellarmine wrote, “Sheep require, first, rich pasture; secondly, pure water; thirdly, one to bring them back when they stray; fourthly, to be brought through easy passages; fifthly, to be protected from wolves and wild beasts; sixthly, to be supported when tired and weary; seventhly, if cut or maimed by passing through cliffs or rocks, to be cured; and, lastly, at the close of day, at the end of their journey, to have a home wherein they may securely rest.”
I read that and thought, “We sheep are a lot of work.” To have all of those things, we need to follow a really good shepherd.
However, what kind of followers are we? In today’s world, we may follow a celebrity or politician until they do something we don’t like, then we follow for someone else. We may even tend to do that with the Church or our own parish. And yes, we may be flimsy followers of Jesus, too.
We are sheep who are loved by the shepherd. When we go off to look for greener pastures, or we want a raging river instead of being led to still waters, the Good Shepherd will leave the 99 in search of the one.
This week we will hear about how good the Shepherd is. As we Lectio the Liturgy, spend some time in prayer and ask God what you need to do or what you need to change to be a sheep that follows and trusts. Then listen to what God has to say.
Thank you for praying with me,