Shepherd of (Pilgrim) Souls, Refresh and Bless

arrowI love the Divine Liturgy. I find in it a fathomless treasure. It, along with Holy Baptism, constitute the normative and essential cornerstone of the Holy Tradition — our environment of transformation — the Way, Truth, and Life. This morning I am blessed by the “way” in which it encourages us and provides the very opportunity for us to be nourished by the example, companionship, and voice of a great cloud of witnesses with whom we share our discipleship. The journey, the pilgrimage of our salvation (our camino of transfiguration). See, among so many other Biblical passages, Hebrews 11-12. This is a company that exhibits the characteristic of mutuality We give and receive the transformative power of fellowship in the Spirit.

The head of this great company of witnesses is Christ Jesus Himself. He was not immune to the need for the encouragement of those with whom He shared life in the Father (see Matthew 26).

One of my favorite Eucharistic hymns is “Shepherd of Souls”:

Shepherd of souls, refresh and bless
thy chosen pilgrim flock
with manna in the wilderness,
with water from the rock.

We would not live by bread alone,
but by thy word of grace,
in strength of which we travel on
to our abiding place.

Be known to us in breaking bread,
and do not then depart;
Savior, abide with us, and spread
thy table in our heart.

Lord, sup with us in love divine,
thy Body and thy Blood,
that living bread, that heavenly wine,
be our immortal food.

Our Lord shepherds us by, among other things, being an example to us of life in the Father and, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, offering us this very same example in the life of our brothers and sisters in the faith not only in our own generation but across the boundaries of time and space.   This example is Eucharistic food for us. By it we are nourished to walk the way (the camino of sainthood).

St. Augustine voices this mystery in his reflection on Psalm 38 (39):

The just shall see and be afraid, and hope in the Lord.”
Those who already have their feet firmly fixed on the rock should be a model for the faithful: As St Paul says, become a model for the faithful. The faithful themselves are just. They take notice of those who outstrip them in goodness, they imitate and follow them. How do they follow them? The just shall see, and be afraid. They shall see, and be afraid to follow the wicked ways when they see that some better people have already chosen good ways. They say in their heart, in the same way as travellers are accustomed to, when they notice others walking on the road with supreme confidence while they themselves are still unsure of the road, and in two minds about which way they should go. They are not going this way without good reason, when they are going to the place where they want to go. And why are they going this way with such confidence other than because it is dangerous to go that way? Therefore the just shall see, and be afraid. They see a narrow road on the one side, they see a wide road on the other. On the one they see only a handful, on the other quite a crowd. But if you are just, do not simply count them, but weigh them up. Bring a well-balanced pair of scales, not one you have adjusted, because the name you yourself bear is ‘the just one’.

The just shall see, and be afraid – this refers to you. Do not spend your time, then, counting the hordes of men and women who take the wide roads, filling tomorrow’s circus, celebrating the city’s birthday with their shouting, while at the same time befouling the city with their evil living. Do not follow them, then! There are many of them, and who could possibly count them? But there are only a few who take the narrow road. I am telling you, produce a pair of scales, weigh them. Compare the amount of chaff it takes to balance a few grains. This is what the faithful just who are follow­ing should do.

The just shall see, and be afraid, and hope in the Lord. It is like what there is in another psalm: I have lifted up my eyes to the hills. By hills we understand the spiritual elite of the Church, significant and outstanding figures, outstanding for their solidity rather than by their pride. It is through them that all Scripture has been dispensed to us. These are the Prophets, the evangelists, the sound teachers. That is the place to which I have lifted up my eyes to the mountains, from which help will come to me. And in case you think that this help is human, the psalmist goes on to say: My help is from the Lord who has made heaven and earth. The just shall see, and be afraid, and hope in the Lord. Source: TWO YEAR LECTIONARY, PATRISTIC VIGILS READINGS, ORDINARY TIME, WEEKS 18 to 34: YEAR II


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