How often do we recognize our dependence on God?
When, in Psalm 23, the psalmist acknowledges that the Lord is his shepherd, he is demonstrating a proper disposition towards God and towards life. The psalmist recognizes his need to be led, his need to look to the one who is leading him, God the shepherd, and to rely upon that shepherd to bring him to verdant pastures and restful waters, to both nourishment and peace, far from a place of fear. The prophet Isaiah likewise encourages the people of Israel to look to God for protection, to acknowledge their need for God’s action in their lives, for God has promised them not only deliverance from fear – he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples – but also a bountiful feast of victory. The people of Israel have but to open to God’s presence to receive the very best God has to offer, Isaiah insists: rich food and choice wines. In his Letter to the Philippians, Paul similarly acknowledges all the God has done for him in his recognition that the Lord has been with him throughout all of his ministry: I can do all things with him who strengthens me, he says. Paul hopes the Philippians have a like appreciation for their need for Jesus’ presence in their lives, and will be generous in an ongoing way to their neighbors.
At the time of its writing, Matthew’s Gospel could not help but reflect recent events in Jerusalem, most notable among them the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. In his parable of the guests who refused to come to the wedding feast, Jesus, speaking to the chief priests and elders, wants this group to change, to be transformed by his presence among them, yet they refuse. Forgetting that they need God, they also forget to serve one another; they are without a wedding garment, without the repentance and good deeds necessary to recognizing the shepherd among them, that they might fully live the life to which they are called. Their faith is not revealed in the life they live, nor in their good deeds; it is mere lip service to the law, and therefore not worthy to come to the feast prepared for the chosen.
We too are called to transformation, called to invest our very selves in living life fully, called to open both to God and to those around us. We must be ready to walk through the dark valley without fear, acknowledging with every confidence that God our shepherd will bring us through, providing for us abundantly, that we might live untroubled, at peace, close to those restful waters of life, fully invested in others, that we might be fully invested in God.
This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
Image source; Wordle
Image source; Wordle