This Sunday’s Readings:
Psalm 23:1–3, 3–4, 5, 6 (℟ 1)
LAST WEEK JESUS SENT OUT THE DISCIPLES TWO BY TWO ON MISSION, and today they return with news of everything they did. But the Sunday lectionary omits an important subplot that takes place between these two events: the death of John the Baptist. It’s Herod’s birthday, and he has prepared a lavish feast for the powerful of his kingdom. Herod is amused by his prisoner John, but his wife despises him. So she gets her daughter to ask Herod, in front of all his influential guests, for John’s head. Herod wasn’t about to lose face to save the Baptist’s. The scene ends with the disciples burying John’s headless body.
This gory interruption in the narrative of the disciples’ mission sets up two important points we’d miss if we didn’t know it was there. First, it gives the exuberant disciples (and us) a reality check. This is discipleship’s true cost. Second, it contrasts two kinds of shepherds. There’s the shepherd who feeds not with healing food that builds the community but with bitterness and cruelty that pits people against one another. Then there’s Jesus, whose compassion feeds a shepherdless flock with food that nourishes minds, unites hearts, and heals bodies for mission.
The questions for us are these: To which shepherd are we drawn? In our daily lives, from whose hand do we feed?
My Shepherd Is the Lord on High
Words by John Quincy Adams / Music by Daniel C. Meyer
G-9392 · Three-part equal or mixed voices, reduction
“He cheers my soul, relives my woes, his glory to display; the paths of righteousness he shows, and leads me in his way.”
The author of this paraphrase of Psalm 23 is none other than the sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams. In an excerpt of his journal, John Quincy Adams recalls the joy he felt at hearing the choir praising Almighty God when singing his text. A leader of the United States writing a paraphrase of this sacred text. Quite the unexpected. This is a lesson for each of us to remember in our ministries, especially in the time of the pandemic. Blessings can come from the most unexpected places. Members of your ministry can surprise you. Everyone always has a gift to bring to ministry, even if it is not readily apparent. How can you be a good shepherd for those you lead in ministry? How can you guide them to grow in their relationship with Christ and to grow in their ministry?
More choral suggestions for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time…
Come to Me, O Weary Traveler Bob Moore SATB, assembly, piano, guitar, C instrument, optional string quintet G-3860
El Amor de Dios/God’s Love Is Everlasting: Salmo 136(135) Lourdes C. Montgomery Two-part choir, cantor, assembly, guitar, keyboard 012649
El Señor Es Compasivo: Salmo 103(102) (bilingual) Peter Kolar Cantor, unison choir, descants 012670
El Señor Es Mi Pastor/The Lord Is My Shepherd Carlos Zapién SATB, keyboard, guitar G-10060
Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us Calvin Hampton Unison, organ G-2764
Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us J. S. Bach, arr. Hal Hopson Unison, organ G-2266
The Good Shepherd M. Roger Holland II SAT, male solo, assembly, guitar, keyboard 001295
The King of Love My Shepherd Is Arr. James Scavone SATB, soprano solo, organ 008723
The Lord Is My Shepherd James E. Clemens Unison choir or solo, flute, guitar, keyboard 009412
The Lord Is My Shepherd Terrence Colopy Two-part choir, cantor, assembly, keyboard 006211
The Lord Is My Shepherd: Psalm 23 Aaron Thompson Three-part choir, cantor, assembly, guitar, keyboard 008377