This week, the 4th Sunday of Easter, is often called Good Shepherd Sunday. The readings and the the prayers all refer to - you guessed it - the Good Shepherd.This week we Lectio the Liturgy with the Prayer after Communion for the 4th Sunday of Easter.
Look upon your flock, kind Shepherd, and be pleased to settle in eternal pastures the sheep you have redeemed by the Precious Blood of your Son. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
When I lectio, or study, Scripture or prayers of the liturgy, I don’t rely on what I feel. I look at what the words mean. As I’ve meditated on this prayer this week, it’s all about the adjectives, those words that describe a person, place, or thing.
The prayer is addressed to God, the Father, which we know because the close of the prayer refers to “your Son.” Notice that God is the kind Shepherd. Kind is not just a nice person, the word kind is defined as someone of a sympathetic or helpful nature. We may think of God as being majestic, almighty, or king, however today, we are reminded of the kindness of God.
The next adjective is precious. Notice how the prayer talks of the flock, the sheep who have been redeemed by the Precious Blood of his Son. Precious means of great value, which speaks about us as much as it does about the Blood of Christ. If God was willing to sacrifice his Son, and Jesus was willing to give his Precious Blood for us, what does that tell us about the value that God has for us? We are priceless!
The next two adjectives we will hear at Mass, in the Responsorial Psalm and in the Prayer after Communion. They are green and eternal. Both refer to pastures, which led me to spending no little time reflecting on pastures.
The definition of pasture caught me by surprise. I learned that when the word pasture is used in scripture it, it doesn’t always have the same definition. However, in Psalm, 23:2, the word pasture means a home, the abode of the shepherd, or habitation. While it is true, I just hadn’t thought of it this way. Where else would a shepherd live when he’s with the sheep 24/7?
As I thought more about being in a pasture where the Good Shepherd lives, the definition of pasture became a little deeper. Being in God’s green pasture is what sustains my spiritual life. Pope Benedict XVI wrote that the image calls to mind an atmosphere of trust, intimacy and tenderness. It is a safe place and the Shepherd is watching over us.
Which brings me to the adjectives green and eternal. Green, young green sprouts, is the pasture we have in Psalms 23. St. Augustine wrote, “In a place of fresh pasture, leading me to faith, there hath He placed me to be nourished.” When we are in God’s green pasture, we have everything we need for life.
God’s pastures are also eternal. As I reflected on eternity, I realized again that God’s eternal pastures don’t begin at our death. They began at the beginning of time. We entered that timeline of eternity when we were born, but the best part comes when we allow the Good Shepherd to lead us to green pastures. It is there that we enter into intimacy with God.
I will live in a pasture that is eternal.
I will live in the abode of the Shepherd forever.
I will dwell in the house of the Lord for endless days. (Psalm 23:6)
And it’s already started.
Thanks for praying with me,