Archive for the ‘Comparing Scripture’ Category

Ezekiel 34: Jesus, the Authentic Shepherd – A Reprise

Monday, January 15, 2018

George Vicat Cole: Watching the Flock

Adapted from a reflection written on January 20, 2008, and explored last September. Today we remind ourselves that Jesus is the one, true, timeless and reliable shepherd.

In the New Testament, the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and John describe the Good Shepherd.  We have heard these lines so often that we might be able to recite them from memory.

In Matthew 9 and Mark 6 we read that Jesus sees the people as a shepherd-less flock.

In Matthew 25 and Mark 14, Jesus tells us that the Son of Man will divide his flock as a shepherd does, who knows each sheep well.

In Matthew 26 when Jesus predicts Peter’s denial of him, he uses the metaphor of a shepherd being struck down and the flock scattering.

John in Chapter 10 develops the beautiful imagery of the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep . . . I know my sheep and my sheep know me The sheep gate, Jesus, admits only the rightful shepherd.  The hired hand runs away in fear to abandon the sheep to the attack of the wolf.  The Good Shepherd also has sheep in other pens which he must bring into the one fold.

God as shepherd brings us back in peace in the letter to the Hebrews (13:20)

Peter tells us that the Good Shepherd leads the flock to safety, and brings us joy. (2:25 and 5:4).

Finally, in Revelation 7:17 we see Jesus the Lamb as the ultimate shepherd.

All of this is not a coincidence.  The continual reminder of God’s presence in our lives as shepherd through Christ and the holy Spirit are meant to be signs to us.  In today’s reading from Ezekiel we are reminded that false shepherds abound.  They are subtle yet abusive.  Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves!  They prey on the weak and lord it over the flock.  They eat the very sheep they are called to protect.  There is also the one, true and constant shepherd who will gather the scattered, who will rid the countryside of ravenous beasts, who will send rain in due season so that the trees might bear fruit.

God asks us these questions through Ezekiel in verse 18: Was it not enough for you to graze on the best pasture, that you had to trample the rest of the pastures with your feet?  Was it not enough for you to drink the clearest water, that you had to fowl the remainder with your feet? 

We know the answers to these questions once we explore scripture. God will judge the lean and the fat.  God, the Ultimate Shepherd, knows each sheep by name.  God, the Good Shepherd, carries the ewes and the lambs in God’s arms.  God, the Protecting Shepherd, defends the sheep from the wolf.  God, the Healing Shepherd, will seek out the lost and the weary.  God, the Abiding Shepherd, will gather us home with all of the faithful flock.

When we compare versions of these verses, we find the shepherd we seek. 

Tomorrow, a prayer to the shepherd.

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Ezekiel 34: Shepherds and the Prophets – A Reprise

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Félix-Saturnin Brissot de Warville: On the Way Home

Adapted from a reflection written on January 20, 2008, and explored last September. Today we listen to the words of the prophets cajole, warn and call to us.

The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Micah, Zechariah join Ezekiel in describing the two-edged shepherd: the true good shepherd who guides and protects versus the false, oppressive shepherd who abuses and steals.

Isaiah 40: 9-11 shows us that the good shepherd tends to those on the margins of society.

He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
    he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
    and gently lead the mother sheep.

Jeremiah 23:1 reminds us that God sees the deceit of the false shepherd.

“Oh no! The shepherds are destroying and scattering the sheep in my pasture!” says Adonai.

Amos 3:12 tells us that the good shepherd struggles to recover even the remnants of his flock.

Julien Dupré: A Shepherdess Watching Over her Flock

In the same way that a shepherd
    trying to save a lamb from a lion
Manages to recover
    just a pair of legs or the scrap of an ear,
So will little be saved of the Israelites
    who live in Samaria—
A couple of old chairs at most,
    the broken leg of a table.

Micah 5:2-5 reminds us that the good shepherd relies on God’s strength and God’s compassion.

And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth;
and he shall be the one of peace.

Finally, in describing a world that looks remarkably like Jesus’ world in which a shepherd deceives his sheep for 30 pieces of silver, the prophet Zechariah 11:4-17 describes what happens to evil shepherds.

The Lord says, “That worthless shepherd is doomed! He has abandoned his flock. War will totally destroy his power. His arm will wither, and his right eye will go blind.”

These prophets join Ezekiel as they teach us how to look for both deceitful and genuine shepherds. These prophets predict that although we suffer we will also rejoice. These prophets bring us the confidence we need when we find ourselves in circumstances that offer us no hope.

When we explore these prophecies further, we find the reward joy through sorrow. 

Tomorrow, shepherding in the New Testament . . .

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Ezekiel 34: Shepherds and Wisdom – A Reprise

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Julien Dupré: The Shepherd

Adapted from a reflection written on January 20, 2008, and explored last September. Today we explore again how scripture’s wisdom might help us discern the difference between true and false shepherds. 

Yesterday we explore the concept of the shepherd in Old Testament scriptures. Today we look at the books of wisdom to see what wisdom they hold for us as we look for a way to discern the difference between true and false shepherds.

In the Book of Psalms, the Holy Spirit brings us beautiful words of the comforting, guiding, protecting shepherd.

Psalm 23 describes the divine shepherd.

Psalm 28 asks Yahweh to be our refuge and protection.

Psalm 78 describes the relationship we want to have with the good shepherd.

Psalm 80 asks the shepherd for restoration.

In the sapiential book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 12, we hear that the words of wisdom are like the shepherd’s staff.

When we compare translations of these verses, we discover the qualities of the good shepherd. In hope we cleave to the shepherd who guides, who calms our fears, who gathers us in.

Tomorrow, prophets who shepherd us . . .

For more beautiful images of shepherds and their flocks, click on the image or visit the “Tending the Flock” post on the “Herding on the Web” blog. 


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Ezekiel 34: Shepherds and the Old Testament – A Reprise

Friday, January 12, 2018

Adapted from a reflection written on January 20, 2008, and explored last September. Today we re-visit our experiences with shepherds both true and false. 

Today’s reading is a familiar allegory that we read in scripture. It is a metaphor we hear read out to us when we participate in liturgies of The Word.

In Genesis 48, Jacob/Israel reminds his sons that God has been his shepherd.

In Numbers 27, Moses tells Yahweh that he ought not to leave his sheep without a shepherd.

In 2 Samuel 5 (and 1 Chronicles 11 and 17), David becomes shepherd of a nation.

In 1 Kings 22 (and 2 Chronicles 18), the prophet Micah predicts that the false shepherd kings of Israel will lead the flock astray.

Through this early Old Testament history, we see the image of the watchful shepherd, guiding and guarding his flocks; but another shepherd steals sheep from the owner. Shepherds wander great distances with their flocks in search of grazing and water to sustain them, and by the nature of their work, there are out of touch with the master and with society.  False and true shepherds come and go with their herds; they roam hillsides and rest by watering holes. However, these shepherds are not all to be trusted. The false shepherd leads his sheep astray – with no one knowing where they were, or what is happening to them. The good shepherd always thinks of his sheep before self; he struggles to gather his sheep in, to tend to their wounds, to save them from harm or danger. The outcast shepherd lives on the margins of society, and does not feel community or solidarity with anyone. Out of touch with society in general, shepherds are free to deceive us or to protect us. We need to acquire the skill of discernment. Today, Ezekiel juxtaposes the good and the false shepherds, the sustainers versus the ravagers. And we do well to pay close attention to his words.

When we use varying translations to explore Ezekiel’s words, we develop new eyes better able to discern the difference between true and false shepherds.

Tomorrow, shepherds in Wisdom . . .

To learn about shepherds today, click on the image or visit: https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/are-there-still-shepherds-today 


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2 Samuel 16: Adversaries

William Brassey: Hole: David Fleeing Jerusalem is Cursed by Shimei 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

We have journeyed through Christmastide. We have spent time with the magi and their gifts of wisdom, mystery and grace. Today we reflect on one of Jesus’ major messages: Loving our enemies.

Various translations present today’s story with varying titles; yet despite the words, the story of David’s patience, wisdom and forgiveness remains the same. David – who seeks forgiveness from Yahweh himself – understands the importance of mercy. David says that we need to allow our foes to curse us if that is the will of God, for who are we to stand in the way of God’s design?  When Shimei curses him, David says, Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. Later, in Chapter 19, Shimei returns to David and repents his cursing.  David forgives him.

What do we learn today? We never know when someone is on his or her conversion path, and to allow someone conversion of heart is correct, just, and God-like.

As we move forward into this new year, we will want to give thought to the benefit, the beauty and the grace we might find in allowing our adversaries to curse us.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore various versions of these verses, we discover the many gifts that come to us when we love our enemies. 

For an in-depth look at today’s story, visit: https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/blogs/what-about-reconciliation-a-lesson-from-shimei-and-king-david 

Adapted from a reflection written on February 4, 2008.

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Matthew 2:13-15: A Time to Flee

Monday, January 8, 2018

When is it appropriate to flee rather than witness?  When do we step away from injustice rather than challenge it?

After [the Magi] had left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Herod will be looking for the child in order to kill him. So get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave.” (GNT)

Commentary tells us that, “Egypt was a place of refuge for those fleeing from danger in Palestine (see 1 Kgs 11, 40, Jer 26, 21), but the main reason the child is to be taken to Egypt is that he may relive the Exodus experience of Israel”. (Senior 9)

The Holy Family become refugees in a world of turmoil. A world that persists in tumult today. Seeking shelter, much like their Hebrew ancestors, Mary, Joseph and the child Jesus understand that it is time to seek sanctuary.

Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod died. This was done to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet, “I called my Son out of Egypt.” (GNT)

Leaving during the night . . .

The act of slipping away in the darkness tells us that Joseph and Mary understood the gravity of the threat. They know that although they have shepherded light into a shadowy world, and despite their belief that God’s light pierces those shadows, they must also act in prudence. They must listen to the voice of God that comes to them through the angel.

“I called my Son out of Egypt . . .”

Jesus re-experiences the exodus journey of his people, showing us that if his family trusts God enough to step away from evil, then so must we.

Stay there until I tell you to leave . . .”

Today we reflect on the flight of The Holy Family to hear what it has to say to us

After the scholars were gone, God’s angel showed up again in Joseph’s dream and commanded, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him.” (MSG)

Are we open to the angels who bring us God’s word?

Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight. They lived in Egypt until Herod’s death. This Egyptian exile fulfilled what Hosea had preached: “I called my son out of Egypt.” (MSG)

Do we obey the call of God’s voice?

He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness . . .

Are we willing to take flight from injustice?

Stay until further notice . . .

And are we prepared to return when God calls us?

When we use the scripture links to read varying translations of these verses, we open our hearts to the messages of angels.

Gentile da Fabriano: Flight Into Eygpt

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.9. Print.

For a chronology of Jesus’ life, click on the map above, or visit: http://www.bible-history.com/Chart_Jesus_Chronology/

For a reflection connecting this reading with the plight of refugees, visit the Flight Noontime at: https://thenoontimes.com/2011/10/24/flight/


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Matthew 9:32-34: Seek Consolation – Speechless

Thursday, December 21, 2017

4th Century Roman image of Jesus

“We have never seen anything like this in Israel!” they exclaimed.

God says: I complete miracles among you each day. I cause the sun to rise, the tides to roll and the moon to bring light to the darkness. I cause your heart to beat, your lungs to rise and fall. You are so fully enveloped in your world that you often miss the many ways I call out to you, asking nothing more than your love and praise of me. When doubt creeps into your mind, as it always does, re-read the many stories of miracles I worked among you as Jesus the Christ. When anxiety takes over your heart, as it often does, remember the many miracles my Spirit continues to work among you. When you find yourself speechless in your daily walk in the world, only rest in and rely on me to bring you the words that you will need. I sent my prophet Isaiah to remind that . . . If you wander off the road to the right or the left, you will hear his voice behind you saying, “Here is the road. Follow it.” (Isaiah 30:21) Remember that my love is greater than any doubt or anxiety, my love for you is greater than any obstacle you perceive.

When we find ourselves speechless in the face of trauma or calamity, we seek consolation in the presence of God.

Comparing translations of these verses brings us new confidence to listen for the voice that tells us which way to walk and which way to go.

To learn more about the early Christians and the Roman Catacombs, click on the image above or visit: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2017/05/30/the-catacombs-remind-us-of-the-courage-and-steadfastness-of-the-early-christians/ 

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Mark 7:31-37: Seek Consolation – Deafness

Jesus Heals a Deaf Man

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How often do we listen without really hearing? How often do we pass along information we believe to be correct but which is, in fact, not true? In the enormous universe of God’s love, we find that we are given countless opportunities to be open to the voice of God.

Some people brought him a man who was deaf and could hardly speak, and they begged Jesus to place his hands on him.

How often do we believe that we cannot bear to hear the day’s news? How often do we turn away from information we cannot take in? In the infinite presence of Christ’s healing, we discover that we have endless access to understanding.

So Jesus took him off alone, away from the crowd, put his fingers in the man’s ears, spat, and touched the man’s tongue.

How often do we grope to comprehend the purpose of the conflict that surrounds us? How often do we open ourselves to healing and transformation? In the immeasurable gift that is the presence of the Spirit, we encounter consolation that changes us forever.

When we do not feel Christ’s presence in our lives, when we fear that we will not hear God’s voice, when we look for consolation we believe will never arrive, we might offer our deafness to the one who created us, in the Advent hope of the presence of God among us.

When we compare differing translations of these verses, we find that our deafness might be more gift than curse.

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Mark 10:46-52: Seek Consolation – Blindness

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

El Greco: Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus

Like Bartimaeus, we call out to Christ when we find ourselves in search of consolation. “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!”

We might be startled to hear the response from Jesus, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Jesus knows what Bartimaeus needs, but still he asks. Persistent in his petitioning, Bartimaeus was much like the persistent widow who constantly asks the corrupt judge for justice – which she ultimately receive. And like Bartimaeus, we too can receive new sight, fresh eyes, another lease on life.

God knows what we need and want, but we must ask. We are to be persistent. Asking puts us in proper relationship with God the Father who created us, with Christ who walks and lives in each of us, with the Holy Spirit who heals and comforts us. Our persistence is a sign of our act of faith – that we believe and will not waiver, our act of hope – that we know that with God all things are possible, and our act of love – that we understand and follow Jesus who prayed for his enemies. Because we are created in God’s image, we can forgive and heal our enemies with our intercessory prayer, just as Jesus did. We can abide with and inspire those who suffer as the Holy Spirit does. And we can be faithful to the covenant promises we have with God the Father, just as God the Father is.

Today we, like Bartimaeus, ask for clarity, fresh sight, new vision and understanding. Today we take consolation in our recovery from blindness.

When we compare varying versions of this story, we open ourselves to a new way of seeing all that we thought we knew. 

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