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Saint Bride's RC Church, 21 Greenlees Road, Cambuslang, Glasgow G72 8JB

Recent Homilies

  • 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

    You will know that we hear a lot about the Pharisees in the Gospel. They are often pictured as unbending, rigid and judgemental people, they roam the streets catching people out and publicly correctin...
  • 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

    There is such a thing as an honest answer and there is such a thing as a dishonest answer. An honest answer is an answer that is clear, truthful and straightforward and has nothing to hide. A dishones...
  • 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

    I suspect when you come to mass you don’t want to hear about blood and guts, instead you come to hear something uplifting, you hope to go away feeling a bit better. But blood and guts is exactly what...

 

I want you to flip the coin today. Instead of thinking that shepherds are good, think of them as bad. In thinking in this way, it is exactly how the people of Israel would think of them: they were regarded as loutish, rough-necks, not reliable and certainly on the edge of being honest and dishonest. It was regarded to be the lowest of jobs in Israel. The job that you took when there was no other was available. It was a dangerous job too, dangers were present from wild animals and from unscrupulous bandits who were always watchful for a weak point to steal the sheep who would spread themselves over the hillside. It was a long day and a thankless task. It wasn’t unusual for shepherds to abandon the flocks and certainly to flee at the slightest sight of danger.

 

 

 

So often Jesus casts the unlikeliest of characters as his hero – the Good Samaritan, the foreigner; the prodigal son;  Zaccheus, the tax collector; he dines with tax collectors, prostitutes  and sinners; he makes fisherman his closest friends.

 

 

 

Why does he do this. To challenge, to make people think, to upset people? Yes all of these things but much more, that those at the bottom of life, those at the end of the queue, the bottom of the pile, God very often views differently. And its clear that they very often have a very different view of God, God is their salvation, their only hope, their refuge. God is not an added extra for them but their only hope, their last hope, they cling to him and they hold fast to him.

 

 

 

The shepherd features in this story. The shepherds are also present at his birth – it will be a theme that is repeated, that the lowliest are sat down with him, the lowliest are attracted to him. Its at the very heart of his message: the mightiest are cast down and the lowly are raised up.

 

 

 

Jesus casts the shepherd as the hero of the story. Shepherds were not noted for their heroics and certainly weren’t known for travelling the extra mile, putting themselves in any extra danger. But there is something about this shepherd that is different. He is watchful, he knows that one of the sheep is missing. He takes a risky decision, leaving the 99 to find the 100. We might say that is full hardy, often most of us go for a safer option to preserve what we have than risk everything. You might say that his decision is foolish, but it does produce the goods. The sheep is found and the shepherd comes back rejoicing, this is a shepherd that is not indifferent, this is a shepherd who is not irresponsible - the one matters as much as the 99.

 

 

 

A similar story follows this of a small coin that is lost and found. The householder like the shepherd searches until it is found and, like the Shepherd, rejoices when that which is lost is found.

 

 

 

The words are meant to shine the light on God. He like the shepherd and householder searches out the lost. He goes the extra mile to find us. His love seems foolish, that he would leave the 99 to find the one who has strayed. He likewise rejoices like the shepherd and the householder when that which was lost is found.

 

 

 

A human telescope sees that which is far from us. God is beyond us and yet these words acts as a telescope and  let us see him as he is, close up to us. These words let us see closely that which is beyond us. The mind and the heart and the ways of God are seen close up. He is not like a careless shepherd who takes his eye off the sheep. He is not like a shepherd who falls asleep and is oblivious to the dangers. He is not fearful, running away at the first sign of danger. He instead knows all his sheep knows when one is lost and searches and searches until it is found, doesn’t give up and even takes what seems a foolish decision to forsake the 99 to find the one that is lost.

 

 

 

Jesus takes a risk in describing God in this way. It is more usual to describe God as an all powerful king with armies at his beck and call, whose will cannot be resisted. Jesus instead uses a more ancient description of God as the Shepherd of Israel. But it is risky, its an image which isn’t as secure in their mind. Shepherds were tricky characters, you weren’t quite sure you could rely on them. You weren’t sure that they would be watchful or protect the sheep, whether they would turn out to be a good shepherd or a hired man.

 

 

 

I wonder whether Jesus is touching on that uncertainty in the human heart with regard to the relationship of human beings and God. Does God really care for his flock? Is he watchful for any dangers, does he look the other way and harm comes to them? Like the prophets before him is Jesus not reassuring the people what they have always known, that God is like a shepherd who stands guard over the flock, who knows everyone of the sheep, who knows when one is missing and will go out and search till he finds it. And in heaven does he not rejoice when the lost is found.

 

 

 

These words are a charter for the unsure. Those who are unsure about what God is doing. Has he taken his eye off them? Does he no longer care? Is he not bothered that we wander or put ourselves in harm’s way? Does he not care for us?

 

 

 

These words like a telescope bring us up close to God – he is like a shepherd who searches for his sheep, like a householder who searches for the smallest of coins, like a father who forgives his wayward son.

 

 

 

It’s like medicine given to cure us of our uncertainty. God is not far away but close to us. Watchful, caring, he risks everything to look after us. Risks even sending his own son to us, allows him to be taken and mistreated to show us how much he loves us.

 

 

 

God is not the far end of the universe but he has come to visit us. He is among the flock as a shepherd might be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayers of Intercession                              24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

 

 

Priest

 

 

 

God is love, those who dwell in love dwell in God. God sends his son into the world so that it may have his life and know his love. Let us renew our faith in his love and care.

 

 

 

Intercessor

 

 

 

You are the sole master of the future: keep us from despair and fear of what is to come.

 

 

 

We pray to the Lord

 

 

 

Love has no ambition to seek anything for itself: strengthen our will to give up selfishness and to do good.

 

 

 

We pray to the Lord

 

 

 

Jesus you loved us and gave yourself for us. May your love overcome all things: let there be no limit to our faith , our hope and our endurance.

 

 

 

We pray to the Lord

 

 

 

We pray for cheerfulness and a generous heart: may we being joy to our homes, to our work and to all that we meet.

 

 

 

We pray to the Lord

 

 

 

We pray for those who have no work; we pray for those who are disabled and sick , for those who cannot work and for those who are retired.

 

 

 

We pray to the Lord

 

 

 

We pray for those who feel in their heart that they are called to the priesthood or religious life -  for a spirit of courage to answer the call.

 

 

 

We pray to the Lord

 

 

 

For all who have died, especially Markus Abraham and all that we are asked to remember in prayer.

 

 

 

We pray to the Lord

 

 

 

Priest

 

 

 

Heavenly Father keep your watchful eye over all of us. Keep us always in your care and let no harm come to us.