Friday, February 05, 2010

Today's Gospel Reading

I really like 365 Days with the Lord. I've learned so much reading that blog. I like the tidbits of information it provides in relation to the Gospel reading of the day. For example, today's Gospel:

Compassion Of The Good Shepherd

Ancient Near Eastern texts traditionally depict the king as a king-shepherd who provides for the well-being of his subjects. In the Bible, Jeremiah uses this concept as a basis to rebuke the kings of Israel for their slackness in office (Jer 2:8; 10:21). The prophet then proclaims that Yahweh will give Israel new shepherds who will pasture the people with integrity (Jer 3:15). Ezekiel later takes up the theme, and also rebukes the kings and the other leaders of Israel for their neglect of the people (Ez 34:1-10). He proclaims that this time God will take the people, his flock, out of the charge of their human leaders. God declares himself the shepherd of the people (Ez 34:11-22; Ps 23; Is 40:11). The time will come, however, when God will give the people a shepherd of his own choice, another David (Ez 34:23-24).

In today’s Gospel, Mark (v 34) clearly sees Jesus’ relationship with the crowd that follow him as that of a shepherd and the sheep (cf also Mt 9:36-37). This compassionate disposition of Jesus makes him literally feed the crowd, like a shepherd feeding the sheep. Elsewhere, Jesus proclaims himself as the “Good Shepherd” who not only leads the sheep to green pastures, but also lays down his life for his flock (Jn 10).

Jesus’ words to Peter—“Feed my lambs” (Jn 21:15)—can be taken as the giving of a solemn charge to care for and to rule the community of believers in his name. Jesus, the Chief Shepherd (1 Pt 5:4), enters into a contract with Peter as a delegated caretaker. In accordance with the Semitic form of entering an agreement (Gn 23:3-20), Jesus stresses the terms of the agreement three times (Jn 21:15-17).

The apostolic tradition will later pass on this image of the shepherd who is “feeding the flock” as a metaphor for Christian leadership (1 Pt 5:1-4; Acts 20:28-29).