I Have Other Sheep: Rev. Judy’s Homily 4th Sunday of Easter 4/26/2015
Collect: Our Loving God, Our Parent and Eternal Shepherd,
We thank you for Jesus the risen Christ who lives and still shepherds us. When we get lost you seek us out,you protect us and guide us. You know us and call us by name. You suffered as Jesus died unjustly and you raised him up. He freely gave his life for us, and for the whole world. Help us to pour out our lives for one another and for all of your children everywhere, leaving none out. Grant this in the name of Jesus, the Christ who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forevermore. Amen
Liturgy of the Word
Acts 4:8-12 Peter and John heal a crippled man in Jesus name. ( In Jesus Aramaic language,”in Jesus Name” means in Jesus’ way and with the same understanding of God as Jesus had-not just saying his name).
Psalm 118 R It was the stone rejected by the builders that has proved to be the keystone
I John 3:1-2 Abba God, We are the children of Abwoon/of our God the universal parent
Gospel: John 10: 11-18 I am the good shepherd, I know my sheep and mine know me….
Homily Although we are in a time away and I will not be preaching at our church of the Good Shepherd in Fort Myers this week my heart remains with each one of our “sheep”. While most of our people have never seen sheep except at the petting farm we take our kids to in North Fort Myers, I am comfortable with the comparison-for myself and for our people. We all are God’s creatures and in need of God’s loving guidance. When away I remember each one- their joys and pain, their triumphs and fears and failures, their struggles and needs. They are always with me as indeed we are always with Christ, our Good Shepherd. As I also use this media to reach out to the other sheep who will not be able to join us at Good Shepherd one of my great joys is seeing this blog sail throughout the world to places I will never be able to go. It gives a whole new dimension to shepherding. I am humbled by this opportunity to reach sheep who Jesus describes as “not of this fold’. And I am pleased also to be shepherded in turn by those who are not here with me in this location, but are here in other ways and in spirit.
Today our Scriptures show us the love of the Shepherd for all sheep and Jesus’ claims to be the good shepherd,indeed he often spoke of his sheep in the gospels. The reading from Acts shows us as well what can be done in Jesus’ name. But let’s stop a moment and consider what that may mean. In Aramaic “Eshoo” (Yeshua/Joshua in Hebrew, Jesus in Greek) was a popular name of the times. It is surely not magic to pray and utter Eshoo. The power is not in just saying the name but in knowing God as Jesus did, as ourParent, our Abba/Amma Mommy/ Daddy, if we understand Jesus’ words. The power to heal and be a healing force as Jesus was is in our relationship to God. We must fill ourselves with God awareness and God knowledge and knowledge of the whole human family as Jesus did, with the help of Christ’s living spirit within us. How else would we be able to offer our lives for the sheep, to pour ourselves out when we are not even sure at times that there is anything left to pour!
The gospel tells us that Jesus, our Shepherd, knows us even as Abba God knows him and he knows Abba God. Through Christ we are to know God that way too and, like Jesus, shepherd one another and sheep not of the fold. Jesus was on familiar terms with his Parent God. In Aramaic “Abba”, “Ab-ba” comes from the root AB meaning all fruit proceeding from the source of Unity. Abwoon, a derivative used in Jesus prayer, has no gender and can be translated Divine Parent and it refers to a cosmic birthing process, giving birth to the universe and beyond. What Jesus is saying in John 10:16 when he speaks of the sheep that are not of this fold is that our loving Parent God has birthed all of the people in the world and all are to be united under our birthing God, Alaha. Abwoon d’bwashmaya ,the first words of Jesus prayer usually translated “Our Father….” is more adequately translated Birther God, Name of Names, Father/Mother of the cosmos and all within it, Source of all good. Jesus came to unite ALL to our Birther God, and to show us how to do just that-by growing in grace to be able to lay down our lives, to pour ourselves out, for the sheep, any of them, all of them.
Yet we reflect-how hard it is to give ourselves away as Jesus did. While some lambs are cute and cuddly some are rebellious, old,desperate, stubborn and frightened. How hard it is to literally and otherwise go out on a limb for those who may be hanging off of the cliff and not very appealing. To risk oneself for those who are angry and bitter, hurt and hurting others, and labor intensive. Those whose ways and cultures and languages are different. What do we need to learn to do and to appreciate to embrace sheep not of this fold, our brothers and sisters of difference? How can we turn to the Shepherd to empower us in knowing and loving and and reclaiming for Birther God. For each one of us there is a different answer to how do we draw close to our loving and living God so that we can renew ourselves and shepherd one another. Based on the 23rd Psalm the hymn by Marty Haugen may guide us: “Shepherd me oh God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life”. Let us also remember that to the original Christ followers, the first Christians who were Jewish followers of Jesus, we ARE the other sheep.
love and blessings,
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP,
Pastor the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community
Fort Myers, Florida