[Ordinary of the Mass]
[English Text of Today's Mass]
[Latin Text of Today's Mass]
hear my voice,
and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.”
Our Lord refers to Himself as “the Good
Shepherd.” This was particularly meaningful to the Jews of His time, as sheep
were their most abundant form of livestock, kept for their meat, their fleece,
their milk, and their pelts. They were also an essential part of the Jewish
sacrificial worship at the Temple. Although they required little more than
grass and water, it was essential that they be guarded by a shepherd who would
do his best to protect them from predators and thieves.
But, of course, our Lord was speaking
metaphorically—He had come to save souls rather than sheep. He was, as Saint
Peter wrote, “the shepherd and bishop of your souls.”
And, as Peter pointed out, He both redeemed us from our sins, and offered us the
good example of how to live a holy life.
It is important to note that the flock
of Jesus Christ is ideally “one fold” under the watchful eye of “one shepherd.”
It cannot be any other way. The idea of a plurality of churches, all equally
Christian, is quite impossible. Jesus Christ is God, the Son of God.
The Bible tells us that “God is love.”
But He is also Truth. Remember His words to Moses: “I am Who am.”
That is to say that God is the foreground of all being—everything that exists is
contingent on God. And, starting with the ancient Greeks, the philosophers
tell us that existence or being is transcendental—what Is is One, Good and True
(unum, bonum, verum).
At most Masses we read Saint John’s
Gospel and hear that He was made flesh and dwelt amongst us … full of grace and
Elsewhere Saint John quotes Jesus, who identified Himself with truth: “I am the
way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the
Father, but by me.”
What a powerful statement!
“I am the way…. No man comes to the
Father but through me.” Jesus has given us the perfect example; He is the
perfect role model. He is everything that we must be in order to taken to the
bosom of God the Father.
“I am the life…. No man comes to the
Father but through me.” In the state of original sin—in that state where we
lack the grace of God we can say that the soul is metaphorically dead. I say “metaphorically,”
for the soul is never dead in in the material sense—it will always be the
essential form of the physical body. But the soul without grace can be thought
of as being “dead” with respect to God and the things of God. Jesus is
the life that is necessary for the soul to experience God, both in this life and
in the beatific vision of God in heaven.
“I am the truth…. No man comes to the
Father but through me.” Like “the way” and “the life,” the truth is absolutely
essential to salvation. Without truth there is no reliable method of knowing
what God expects of us—without truth we have no way of knowing what aids God has
given us to help us meet His expectations. Without truth it is impossible for
us to know “the way” or to achieve “the life.”
If Being is “One, Good, and True” we are
forced to recognize that truth is unique—there can only be one truth—there
cannot be a set of truths about God and the spiritual life from which to pick.
All the “dialogue” in the world is nothing more than wasted breath and hot air.
Jesus Christ is the Truth; not Buddha;
not Mohammad; not Luther or Calvin; not Confucius; not Zoroaster; not even
Moses; but only Jesus Christ is the Truth. The others serve, at best, to
distort the Truth
As Catholics it should be a primary
concern to us that when those “other sheep” hear the word, that it is truly the
word of Jesus Christ, and not some dialogical mixture of opinions conflicting
with the word of Jesus Christ. To this end, it should always be our prayer that
Jesus might send us good shepherds like Himself: holy Popes, holy bishops and
holy priests to gather in the lost and straying sheep.