“THE LORD YOUR SHEPHERD IS”
Saint Luke 15. 1-10
3rd Sunday after Trinity: 16 June Anno Domini 2013
Fr. Jay Watson SSP
In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost
“If [you] say [you] have no sin [you] deceive [y]ourselves and the truth is not in [you]” [1 Jn. 1.8]
Repent and admit that you have sin inside of you. Confess to the Lord and confess to yourself. Repent and be honest. Don’t just speak the general confession. You’ve never once just “broken” the sixth, fifth, first, or eighth commandment—there is no “generic” number anonymity with God. You sin actual sins in thought, word and deed not systematic categories. You have lusted, cheated, or looked at pornography; you have hated, loathed, mocked, or eye-rolled with contempt; you have put your time and energy into things above and instead of the Lord or refrained from assembling here to receive His gifts; you have gossiped, slandered or spoken ill of your neighbor and friend as often as your enemy. Repent. Strike your breast and say “my fault, my fault, my most grievous fault; Lord have mercy upon me a miserable sinner!”
“I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
Where are you right now at this very moment? You ARE in the presence of angels and archangels and the host of heaven. They are rejoicing for you and with you. There joy is yours and will soon be yours as you are ushered to the high table of joy! Rejoice!
Don’t worry and fret about animal husbandry and agricultural knowledge. You don’t need to pull out your I-phone or Bible atlas & commentary to “study up” on lambs, shepherds and flock dynamics. You don’t presume to criticize God the 1st Person—The FATHER—based upon your understanding of your own Dad or other Fathers. The fact that earthly Fathers can beat their wives, neglect their children, or drink and gamble does not affect the perfect nature of the Loving Father Who art in heaven. One is a distorted and fallen image, an imperfect reflection in a cracked surface the other is SOURCE and TRUTH. So too it is with lambs, sheepfolds and Shepherds. Do not judge Jesus and “The” eternal flock by the apparent “results” of your cracked and ugly pastors and your smelling and dysfunctional fellow sheep.
The fact that in the Lord’s parable, the Good Shepherd HIMSELF does the rescue…means that here, in His actual earthly, incarnational, real-world, “means-of-grace” approach…it’s still HIM (the Good Shepherd) actually doing the... “doing!”
So you don’t have to fret that your friend who raises sheep over in Missouri tells you one thing about how actual sheep behave or that you have countless anecdotes about how actual pastors let you down know this: THE 99 ARE SAFE! The Good Shepherd says in John 17 “…I guarded them. I kept them safe through the Name You gave Me. None of them has been lost.” To be sure, breath and mouth contrition for your OWN trespasses, but breathe easy about the flock and do not be consumed with angst and panic over the lost. The wandering, hiding, trapped, deaf & dumb, as well as the ignorant, mean, cussed, deliberately hiding and rebelling sheep…that is, the sheep that are part of The Good Shepherd’s family of wooly whiteness…simply CANNOT thwart the will of the Good Shepherd!
Again the Good Shepherd says: “I am praying for those You have given Me, because they are Yours” [Jn. 17.9] and “My sheep listen to My voice. I know them and they follow Me.” [Jn. 10.27]
Is this parable about evangelism and mission work? Well, yes.
Is this parable about reclaiming the delinquents and sinful erring? Well, yes, such is always the joyful communion of the Church.
But, is this parable MOST CERTAINLY TRUE about your own birth-rite, biography, and personal history? Oh yes, O joyfully YES!
The sheep, the Lamb, away from the flock is dead. The Good Shepherd is not a Gideon Bible linked up to a solo recluse (you know, the “I find churches filled with hypocrites…and I can worship God in nature” crap) but an organic flock, ALL feeding together on the same green grass of Gospel purely preached and Eucharist rightly administered.
Not acting like a sheep in the pasture? Well, then, be aware of the eyes, feculent breath, and glistening teeth of the circling wolves—the demons.
Now rejoice with your Shepherd for He has called together all His friends (Adam, Noah, Job, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and David) and neighbors (Gentiles by the myriads) and says “Rejoice with Me; for I have found my sheep which was lost!” He’s talking about you!
But not just found. The Good Shepherd became a replacement sheep for you. His death in the wilderness of sin was what bought your rescue. His surrender to the wolves—to the dragon—is what freed you from the murderous maw of evil. His Blood, not gold, not ten pieces of silver, was shed so that yours would not be; He Body was bit into and His heel punctured (His life given) so that your body would rise again glorified.
And mysteriously, sacramentally, what was poison for the wolves and the serpent, for He defeated death and Satan when He rose again, now becomes the medicine of immortality and the everlasting life meal for you: His Body and Blood as your food and drink.
As the mother pelican vulns herself to feed her young chicks on her own blood; as an earthly Mother and Father will give up their own meals and sustenance to feed their beloved children, THIS Shepherd is Good incarnate as He feeds His flock Himself—The Shepherd for the Sheep!
The world will murmur and gnash its teeth; nothing you can do about that. The Pharisee and scribe in your heart will mutter and curse; REPENT in the presence of angels, and of The Good Shepherd’s appointed angel, at this font and rail! And joy now in peace and mercy as He brings you the restored flock to the table-trough as forgiven sinners…and you eat with Him, you eat Him and He embraces you on His shoulders---in His arms and heart forever!
In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost