Scriptures for today.
Psalm 119.49-72 · Exodus 33.1-23 · 1 Thessalonians 2.1-12 · Psalm 49 · Matthew 5.17-20
Prayer for today.
Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life: raise us, who trust in him, from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, that we may seek those things which are above, where he reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Question for today.
St Augustine draws a picture of Jesus Christ using Jesus’ own words and other scriptural uses of the shepherd theme that fill the Bible. Jesus’ love makes his bride beautiful through the ugliness he endured. Where could you benefit from Jesus’ good shepherding today?
Excerpt from Sermon 88. You may read the entire sermon here http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/160388.htm
1. We have heard the Lord Jesus setting forth to us the office of a good shepherd. And herein He has doubtless given us to know, as we may understand it, that there are good shepherds. And yet that the multitude of shepherds might not be understood in a wrong sense; He says, I am the good Shepherd. And wherein He is the good Shepherd, He shows in the words following; The good Shepherd, says He, lays down His life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, sees the wolf coming, and flees; because he cares not for the sheep, for he is an hireling. Christ then is the good Shepherd. What was Peter? Was he not a good shepherd? Did not he too lay down his life for the sheep? What was Paul? What the rest of the Apostles? What the blessed Bishops, Martyrs, who followed close upon their times? … Were they not all good shepherds, not hirelings, of whom it is said, Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward? All these then were good shepherds, not simply for that they shed their blood, but that they shed it for the sheep. For not in pride, but in charity they shed it.
…4. Let us question the Lord with such little understanding as we have, and in most humble discourse hold converse with so great a Master. What sayest Thou, O Lord, Thou good Shepherd? For You are the good Shepherd, who art also the good Lamb; at once Pastor and Pasturage, at once Lamb and Lion. What sayest Thou? Let us give ear and aid us that we may understand. I, says He, am the good Shepherd. What is Peter? Is he either not a shepherd, or a bad one? Let us see, if he be not a shepherd. Do you love Me? You said to Him Lord, Do you love Me? And he answered, I do love You. And Thou to him, Feed My sheep. Thou, You, Lord, by Your Own questioning, by the strong assurance of Your Own words, made of the lover a shepherd. He is a shepherd then to whom You committed Your sheep to be fed. You Yourself entrusted them, he is a shepherd. Let us now see whether he be not a good one. This we find by the very question, and his answer. You asked, whether he loved You; he answered, I do love You. Thou saw his heart, that he answered truth. Is he not then good, who loves so great a Good? Whence that answer drawn from his inmost heart? Wherefore was this Peter, who had Your eyes in his heart for witnesses, sad because You asked him not once only, but a second and a third time, that by a threefold confession of love, he might efface the threefold sin of denial; wherefore, I say, being sad that he was asked repeatedly by Him who knew what He was asking, and had given what He heard; wherefore being sad, did he return such an answer, Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You? What! In making such a confession, such a profession rather, would he lie? In truth then, he made answer of his love to You, and from his inmost heart he gave utterance to a lover’s words. Now You have said, A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things. So then he is both a shepherd, and a good shepherd; nothing it is true to the power and goodness of the Shepherd of shepherds; but nevertheless even he is both a shepherd, and a good one; and all other such are good shepherds.
…6. With good reason then to This Shepherd of shepherds, does His Beloved, His Spouse, His Fair One, but by Him made fair, before by sin deformed, beautiful afterward through pardon and grace, speak in her love and ardour after Him, and say to Him, Where feedest Thou? And observe how, by what transport this spiritual love is here animated. And far better are they by this transport delighted, who have tasted ought of the sweetness of this love. They hear this properly, who love Christ. For in them, and of them, does the Church sing this in the Song of Songs; who love Christ, as it seemed without beauty, yet the Only Beautiful One. For we saw Him, it is said, and He had neither beauty nor comeliness. Such He appeared on the Cross, such when crowned with thorns did He exhibit Himself, disfigured, and without comeliness, as if He had lost His power, as if not the Son of God. Such seemed He to the blind. For it is in the person of the Jews that Isaiah said this, We saw Him, and He had no beauty nor comeliness. When it was said, If He be the Son of God, let Him come down from the Cross. He saved others, Himself He cannot save. And smiting Him on the head with a reed, they said, Prophesy unto us, you Christ, who smote You? Because He had neither beauty nor comeliness. As such did you Jews see Him. For blindness has happened in part to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles enter in, until the other sheep come. Because then blindness has happened, therefore did you see the Comely One without comeliness. For had you known Him, you would never have crucified the Lord of Glory. But you did it, because you knew Him not. And yet He who as though without beauty bare with you, all Beauteous as He was, prayed for you; Father, says He, forgive them, for they know not what they do. For if He were without comeliness, how is it that she loves Him, who says, Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loves? How is it that she loves Him? How is it that she burns for Him? How is it that she fears so much to stray from Him? How is it that she has so great delight in Him,that her only punishment is to be without Him? What would there be for which He should be loved, if He were not beautiful? But how could she love Him so, if He appeared to her as He did to those blind men persecuting Him, and knowing not what they do? As what then did she love Him? As comely in form above the sons of men. Comely in form above the sons of men, grace is poured abroad in Your Lips. So then from these Your Lips, Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loves. Tell me, says she, O Thou whom, not my flesh, but, my soul loves. Tell me where You feed, where Thou liest down in the midday; lest haply I light, as one veiled, upon the flocks of Your companions.