Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd”, is attributed to King David who was a shepherd before being called to be King of Israel. It is one of the best loved prayers in the Bible.
The story is told of a famous actor who came back to visit the little church he grew up in. While he was there the people asked him to recite Psalm 23 for them. The actor said he would recite the psalm only if the pastor would recite it after him. The people of the parish readily agreed.
As the actor recited the psalm he used just the right tone of voice, the right inflection, the right emphasis, the right pace, and the right pauses. Every word was clearly and beautifully enunciated. All who heard him were deeply impressed and gave him a standing ovation.
Then the old pastor stood up to recite the psalm. He didn’t have the skill of the actor, but as he prayed the people were moved to tears. The actor stood up and said, “I have been trained to read with the greatest skill, but the difference is that father knows the shepherd.
Notice that King David did not say, “The Lord is a shepherd,” though that he is. Nor did he say, “The Lord is the shepherd,” though that he is. What he said was, “The Lord is my shepherd.”
He was speaking from personal experience, out of a personal faith. That makes all of the difference.
In today’s Gospel Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” How do we come to hear the voice of Jesus the shepherd? Prayer is one way. Meditating on him and on his teachings is important, but following him is crucial to coming to know him. When we make him and his teachings our life’s priority every day we will come to know him in a deeper way. When we try to live Jesus’ teachings it often takes us beyond easy answers and simple solutions. It will move us beyond the letter of the law to the spirit of the law.
Congratulations to the children who are making their first communion. I pray that you will continue to hear the voice of Jesus the shepherd and follow him.
Don’t forget the Healing Workshops being facilitated by Sr. Esther Fangman on April 29th and May 6th from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. here at Holy Spirit Church. Sr. Esther will help us address the conflicting emotions sparked by the sexual abuse crisis in our Church. There is more information in this bulletin.
Electing the Pope: Inside the Coverage of the National Catholic Reporter. Editor Dennis Coday and staff writer Josh McElwee were in Rome for the last days of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and the first days of Pope Francis. Their review of these historical events are interlaced with personal observations and impressions. They will give you a taste of what it was like to be there. Each event is free of charge and open to the public. Monday, April 22, 7 pm at Visitation Parish Hall or Wednesday, April 24, 4pm at Rockhurst University, St. Ignatius Science Center Room 115, 1100 Rockhurst Rd.