Monday, February 22, 2016

Tend the Flock of God in Your Midst

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle

Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
1 Peter 5:2-3

Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul.
He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.
You set a table before me in front of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life;
I will dwell in the house of the LORD for endless days.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:15-18

Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, leading the ewes with care.  Jesus, feed us as members of your flock.  (Isaiah 40:11)

Good shepherd Jesus, gather us in your warm, strong arms.  Lead us with care so that none of us are lost or afraid. 

The familiar shepherd and flock figures express the care, vigilance, and love of God for his people in the Old Testament; and of Jesus for all humanity in the New Testament.  From the first star light of the New Testament, the body and blood of the lamb have been ever present in the story. 

The first visitors to the manger-crib of the Nativity were shepherds.  Is it any wonder that the image of these caring, hard-working servants made a strong imprint upon the Baby Jesu?  Growing up, I imagine Mary might have shared the birth story with her son.  In his humble heart, is it any wonder that the carpenters and shepherds were among the chosen professions?  He exalted these humble workers higher than the scribes, Pharisees and tax collectors.

Who needs your shepherd-like care?  Who has Jesus left under your watchful eye? These people are already in your midst. 

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