Friday, April 24, 2015

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 4th Sunday of Easter, B, April 26, 2015 by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Today’s gospel gives us a metaphor
that is common in the Hebrew scriptures,
the shepherd as a model leader
and the sheep as guided and protected by God.
In addition to today’s Gospel, perhaps the most familiar to us
is Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd.
So it’s not surprising
that Jesus would have been familiar with his tradition
and would have used that figure of speech,
nor is it surprising
that John would encode Jesus’ life and Jesus’ mission
in the symbolic language
of that Jewish tradition that they shared.
________________________________________________
John expanded the metaphor into an allegory
and packed it full of ideas
that would help the people in his community
to understand who Jesus was,
what Jesus did,
and how Jesus wanted them to follow him.
Nothing has changed.
The metaphor of the Good Shepherd is not exhausted;
it remains alive for us today.
It tells us what Jesus is like
and what Jesus wants us to do.
• Jesus is like a Good Shepherd:
he cares for his flock,
using his one precious life
to do all he can to tend them,
no matter what.
Like a good parent, or a good teacher, or a good friend.
• Jesus has the power to decide how to use his life,
a power that comes from God:
he can put his own concerns aside to tend the flock,
deciding to tend to himself after the sheep are safe.
• Jesus shoulders the responsibility that comes with power.
Like a Good Shepherd,
like a good steward,
like a good employer,
he uses his energy and talents and resources
to provide the best
for the sheep, the land,
the employee, the neighbor.
• Jesus makes a serious commitment to the task of shepherding:
he gives his life tending his flock.
He’s not like a hired hand,
taking on the task for the rewards and paybacks,
then abandoning the job
undone or half done or badly done when it gets harder.
Jesus makes a serious and total commitment
and keeps it.
_________________________________________
At the last Supper Jesus shows his disciples
what the Good Shepherd does—
he washes their feet,
and then he tells them to do what he has done—
to be servant disciples,
to “love one another as I have loved you.”
Matthew and Luke communicate the same lesson
in the words we know as the Golden Rule,
where Jesus tells us:
“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”
This “ethic of reciprocity”
is basic to almost every organized religion around the world
and applies to the entire human race.
Baha’i and Buddhist and Brahman,
Judaism and Islam,
Confucian and Hindu and Taoist,
all of them preach the Golden Rule,
same as Christianity.
There they are,
all those other sheep Jesus talks about,
all those other flocks that need tending.
____________________________________________
The lesson is there for us,
to love one another,
to tend to one another.
We are to be Good Shepherds.
We can’t walk away from the responsibility
by saying that there aren’t any sheep here
in the middle of Toledo.
It’s a metaphor, so we have to take it as a metaphor
and apply it to our own lives.
So we are called to be good parents
to our children and all the children of the world;
we have to be good children, good siblings,
good spouses, good employees, good employers,
good friends, good citizens, good voters, good persons.
We are called to follow Today’s gospel gives us a metaphor
that is common in the Hebrew scriptures,
the shepherd as a model leader
and the sheep as guided and protected by God.
In addition to today’s Gospel, perhaps the most familiar to us
is Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd.
So it’s not surprising
that Jesus would have been familiar with his tradition
and would have used that figure of speech,
nor is it surprising
that John would encode Jesus’ life and Jesus’ mission
in the symbolic language
of that Jewish tradition that they shared.
________________________________________________
John expanded the metaphor into an allegory
and packed it full of ideas
that would help the people in his community
to understand who Jesus was,
what Jesus did,
and how Jesus wanted them to follow him.
Nothing has changed.
The metaphor of the Good Shepherd is not exhausted;
it remains alive for us today.
It tells us what Jesus is like
and what Jesus wants us to do.
• Jesus is like a Good Shepherd:
he cares for his flock,
using his one precious life
to do all he can to tend them,
no matter what.
Like a good parent, or a good teacher, or a good friend.
• Jesus has the power to decide how to use his life,
a power that comes from God:
he can put his own concerns aside to tend the flock,
deciding to tend to himself after the sheep are safe.
• Jesus shoulders the responsibility that comes with power.
Like a Good Shepherd,
like a good steward,
like a good employer,
he uses his energy and talents and resources
to provide the best
for the sheep, the land,
the employee, the neighbor.
• Jesus makes a serious commitment to the task of shepherding:
he gives his life tending his flock.
He’s not like a hired hand,
taking on the task for the rewards and paybacks,
then abandoning the job
undone or half done or badly done when it gets harder.
Jesus makes a serious and total commitment
and keeps it.
_________________________________________
At the last Supper Jesus shows his disciples
what the Good Shepherd does—
he washes their feet,
and then he tells them to do what he has done—
to be servant disciples,
to “love one another as I have loved you.”
Matthew and Luke communicate the same lesson
in the words we know as the Golden Rule,
where Jesus tells us:
“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”
This “ethic of reciprocity”
is basic to almost every organized religion around the world
and applies to the entire human race.
Baha’i and Buddhist and Brahman,
Judaism and Islam,
Confucian and Hindu and Taoist,
all of them preach the Golden Rule,
same as Christianity.
There they are,
all those other sheep Jesus talks about,
all those other flocks that need tending.
____________________________________________
The lesson is there for us,
to love one another,
to tend to one another.
We are to be Good Shepherds.
We can’t walk away from the responsibility
by saying that there aren’t any sheep here
in the middle of Toledo.
It’s a metaphor, so we have to take it as a metaphor
and apply it to our own lives.
So we are called to be good parents
to our children and all the children of the world;
we have to be good children, good siblings,
good spouses, good employees, good employers,
good friends, good citizens, good voters, good persons.
We are called to follow the Golden Rule.
We are called to love one another.
We are all called to be Good Shepherds,
just the way John pictured it,
just the way Jesus taught.

--
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

www.holyspirittoledo.org

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006
419-727-1774the Golden Rule.
We are called to love one another.
We are all called to be Good Shepherds,
just the way John pictured it,
just the way Jesus taught.

--
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

www.holyspirittoledo.org

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006
419-727-1774

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