Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies
COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL - SUNDAY, APRIL 15th, 2018 A.D.: GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY
For today’s meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the principal Collect for the Mass of the Second Sunday after Easter in the MR’62, commonly known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Below is the English translation of the Latin prayer in the Angelus Press edition of the Roman Catholic Daily Missal:
“O God, Who, by the humility of Thy Son, didst lift up a fallen world, grant unending happiness to Thy faithful: that those whom Thou hast snatched from the perils of endless death, Thou mayest cause to rejoice in everlasting joys. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.”
Today’s Collect alludes to Christ’s own analogy of himself as the Good Shepherd:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep...I know My own and My own know Me, as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep [.....] My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand” (cf. Jn. 10:11, 14-15, 27-28, RSV).
As a shepherd snatches his sheep from the perils of beasts and unsafe terrain, so also, Christ, by His life-giving Death, snatches us away from the devil, who seeks to snatch us into the destruction of hell. Our Good Shepherd takes us upon His shoulders into the abundant life of sanctifying grace and eventually, with our cooperation and final perseverance, into heaven itself (v. 10).
The essence of Christ’s shepherding consists in His total self-sacrifice on our behalf. We see this notion recast even more plainly in the “New Commandment” at the Last Supper:
“Jesus...having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end [.....] A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (cf. Jn. 13:1, 34, RSV). We should note the similarity in language between chapters 10 and 13 when it refers to Jesus knowing His own sheep, that is, His own disciples, and Jesus loving His own to the end, that is, giving of Himself to them without reserve in the Eucharist and on the Cross.
We should take great comfort in this great truth of being deeply known and loved by Christ. The uniqueness of our own personhood, as well as all the particularities of our own situations, good and bad, are known in full by our Lord. Furthermore, He does not withhold His providence or grace from any piece of it: in the redeeming Sacraments of his Church, He takes the totality of our lives upon His shoulders, transforms us, and leads us to heaven.
Note well that none of these aforementioned things is meant to convey a false notion of “eternal security,” as if we cannot willfully reject salvation. The Church teaches that man can walk away from God’s grace, and suffer eternally for it. We are duly warned against temptation, and we do well to guard against it. However, this is a corollary to that which is primary, namely, cherishing our communion with Christ with great joy, especially in the Sacraments. Thus, the central point which the Mass formularies of Eastertide repeatedly stress is the joy that comes in resting and remaining in the safe pastures of baptismal grace. This is exactly what our Collect holds out for our mediation and prayer today. Good Shepherd Sunday is one of the most fitting ways to celebrate and articulate the essence of the Christian life: joyfully following Christ, resting upon His shoulders, and remaining with Him in the good pastures of His grace.(David Allen)
|Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.