Saturday, 21 July 2012

This Sunday's Gospel: Trinity 7, the Good Shepherd

This week, Jesus is portrayed as the familiar Good Shepherd who cares for us wild and wayward ruminants. But there is more than meets the eye to this charming picture. For although it is quite clear in Mark 6 that Jesus sees the multitudes as his flock, it is not at all clear at this point that He includes the disciples in their number.

In fact, it seems that everyone except the disciples sees Jesus for what he really is. Even when he feeds thousands, the disciples simply do not get it. It is only later that Peter realises that Jesus is the Messiah, but even then will not accept Jesus' definition of His messiahdom as a matter of self-sacrifice and suffering. And so, Judas betrays Him, and the remaining disciples abandon Him when He is arrested at Gethsemane.

Jesus has warned us over and again these past few weeks against complacency. Much is expected from those to whom much is given, and the Christian Church has been given the most precious gift: the invitation to become one with the God we have seen in Christ. Yet we cannot respond to this invitation only by looking inwards towards each other. If, unlike the disciples, we manage to stay awake long enough, we will discover that true knowledge of Christ is to be found as much outside the Church as within. It was, after all, for the outsiders that Jesus died.