The Lord is My Shephard

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One of the readings at Mass Sunday was Psalm 23. This psalm is mostly known from being  read at funerals. Depending on the particular bible translation you use, the NABRE used at Mass reads differently than the RSVCE. The difference is verse 4:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death – RSVCE

Even though I walk in the dark valley – NABRE

Not being a biblical scholar I guess this can be taken as the psalmist is on his deathbed, but I look at it differently. I look at Palm 23 as talking about our journey through life in general. It describes what trusting in God is like, how your life journey will be.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

When you trust in the Lord, you shall not want, He will give you what you need, it may not be what you want, but it will be what you need. He will protect you from harm, he will guide you through the storms. He will lead you to green pastures where you can rest peacefully, with plenty of food and out of harm’s way. He will lead you to restful waters where you will be able to drink without worrying about being washed away by rough currents. You will also be able to cross these streams without difficulty. Because your journey is made easier by following Him, your soul will be refreshed and rested.

He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.

The Lord will guide you, making sure you are on the right path. He will make sure you don’t stray from the path, becoming lost, abducted or misled. Even when you are in a dark valley, even after death, He will be right with you and you do not need to fear evil. All you need to do is look at Him, see Him next to you and you can get through anything. I know this has certainly worked for me. I have been on a pretty rough journey, and once I began to trust in Him, letting Him guide me, I was no longer afraid of where I was going or what was going to happen to me. I was always afraid, uncertain of the future, not knowing what was coming next, and what I would do when something happened. No longer do I feel that way for I know God has my back. He has given me the strength and courage I never had before.

You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come.

When you follow the Lord, he spreads his table before you, all the gifts you could want, all you need. He does this in front of your enemies so they can see what He has to offer and they will realize they cannot compare. You will see that your cup will truly overflow.Because you follow Him, goodness and kindness will always be with you. You come into the world with nothing and you will go out with nothing. All you can leave behind you is the good works you have done, and a legacy of all the good you have done.

Are you following the shepherd?

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Prepare the Way

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Today is the First Sunday of Advent, and even though I promised in my last post to continue my thoughts on the mess in Ferguson, I am going to put that off in favor of a reflection. After all it is Sunday, and Advent is one of the two most important seasons in the Liturgical calender.

Advent is when we get ready for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. In these times I would propose that many people have forgotten the real reason for Christmas, the reason we celebrate it. Advent is a good time for us to think of this. Instead it has become a time for sales and black Fridays, small business Saturdays and Cyber Mondays. It is about which stores have the best deals on things we might want but don’t really need, things which marketers have convinced us we cannot live without. We deck the halls, the malls, the streets and our homes with plastic Santa Clauses, “Holiday Trees”, blinking lights and music about reindeer with red noses and drunk grandmothers. Maybe there might be the odd manger in a public place, or in one’s home, but there aren’t many.

Advent however is about more than just the birth of Jesus, it is about Christs’ Second Coming, when He will come to save us, the day when the final judgement will be made and He will decide where we will spend eternity. The secular definition of the word advent is the “coming into being or use” almost like a beginning or preparation. We should be preparing for this Second Coming.

We don’t know when this will be, even though many have claimed they know the date, they have all come and gone and we are still here. Jesus told us we “will not know the day or the hour” but we need to look for various signs. Many believe these signs are already here, but whether or not they are, we should be prepared. Today’s Gospel reading tells us to be watchful, to be prepared, to not be sleeping. when the Lord returns.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” (Mk 13:33-37)

Preparing doesn’t mean getting the best deal on a new notebook computer, although if you find one you could certainly send it to me. It means to be virtuous and help others, to live the way Christ teaches us.

It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith. The night is far spent; the day draws near. Let us cast off deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us live honorably as in daylight; not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. – Romans 13:11-12

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Sunday Reflection: Separating the Wheat and the Weeds

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Today’s Gospel reading was from Matthew:13:24 – 30. This is Jesus telling another one of his parables. It talks about a man who is planting his wheat field. After he and his workers sow their seeds, one of the man’s enemies comes around at night and sows seeds for weeds among the wheat. When the seeds begin to grow, the man and his workers can see there are both weeds and wheat sprouting. When the workers ask the man if they should pull the weeds, he replies “No, for you run the risk of pulling up the wheat as well.We will wait for the harvest and separate them then.”

What is the meaning of this parable? You don’t have to be a wheat farmer to understand it, that’s for sure. From where I sit, I look out the window to a fence between my house and the neighbor. On my side of the fence I have various plants along the fence. Each spring, usually right after the first warm day, all kinds of things begin to spring up from the soil. The problem is when they first come out I can’t tell what each sprout is. I have to wait a week or so before I go out and start the weeding. If I were to start before the plants were large enough for me to be able to tell the difference, I would run the risk of pulling up the “good” stuff by mistake. 

For you wheat farmers out there, you also know that there is a weed called Tares or Darnell. This would be the weed the enemy sowed. As you can see by the picture to the right, the two look very similar and it is not until they are fully grown can you tell the difference.

Waiting creates another problem however, when I wait too long, the roots of the weeds and the roots of the good stuff will become intertwined and when I pull a weed, I also may pull something good. I take this chance only because if I wait too long, it isn’t very attractive and the neighbors complain. It seems they believe in “Love Thy Neighbor” as long as he keeps up his yard. When it comes to the parable of Jesus, he says to wait until the wheat is ready to harvest and then they can separate the weeds from the wheat and the weeds will be burnt. The owner of the field knows that his enemy has come and sowed the weeds in with the wheat.

What does this parable mean? It means several things.

  • God plants the wheat but the enemy, Satan, comes in the dark of night, when we are not awake and plants the weeds. They grow and try to choke the good wheat.
  • If we try to remove the weeds, we run the risk of pulling up and throwing out, the good with the bad.
  • When it is harvest time, God will separate the wheat from the weeds and burn the weeds while putting the wheat into His house, Heaven.

We can relate this to our lives today. When we are born, God makes us all the same, we are all good seeds with the potential of growing into wheat. But as we grow, we allow Satan to come into our lives and sow weeds which try, and I know in my case succeed, to choke out the good, trying to kill it. With some of us though, it is not always easy to tell the difference, whether we are weeds or wheat, we can go back and forth. I believe most of us are like this. Therefore, if we decide to pull the weeds we could pull up wheat instead. In the case of people, we might destroy a good person who happens to be in the weed stage.

We must strive to become wheat and stay wheat as much as possible. God is keeping track and when the harvest comes, He will know who is wheat and who is a weed. He will separate them and the weeds will burn in the fires of hell while the wheat will be stored in heaven. God knows none of us are perfect. He knows there will be times when we might become weeds, but He also knows if we are doing our best to be wheat, and when Judgement Day comes, He will use this to help in his decision.

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