Saturday, December 17, 2005

Exhortation-Fourth Sunday in Advent

This is the fourth Sunday of Advent. The Shepherd of our souls is come.

There were shepherds in the land during the Advent of our Lord. They had been commissioned by God, entrusted with the very oracles of God and set over the house of Israel for good. But they were not true to their oaths to their master. Instead of protecting the sheep, they began to feed on the sheep. Instead of killing wolves and foreign invaders, they, themselves, were in league with them, allowing them to climb into the sheepfold and devour the sheep. These shepherds were dastardly cunning and hurt, rather than helped, the sheep. They did not gently lead the sheep but ever drove them on before with threats. And so their master, the God of Heaven, brought forth a new Shepherd, one who would do all His holy will.

To herald His coming, He sent His angels to appear to true shepherds of Israel, watching over their flocks by night. He did not send the message to His former shepherds for they had grown weary of well-doing and watching over the sheep. But these shepherds, who saw the angel, were ever faithful. They recognized the day of the Lord’s visitation, welcomed Him as their Chief Shepherd, their baby King, and worshipped Him in the manger.

But the false shepherds were ever wary of a new Chief Shepherd, for they were not busy about the Master’s business and had been negligent in their duties. They had lost many sheep and eaten many more. They knew that His coming would be their doom. And so they opposed all who would come in the Master’s name, and forbid Him to take the authority and care over the sheep. This was an insult to their pride as well as to their bellies.

The Lord has given duties to those in authority. All who are in authority must do all the Father’s will, watching over their charges. This is true, whether it be the wife of your youth, the children in your home, the employees in your care, or the souls in the charge of elders and pastors in the Church. We are to be faithful to our duties, being ready to give an answer to the Chief Shepherd when He appears. Of course, as Christians, we do not do this, we cannot do this, on our own. The Spirit of the Chief Shepherd must enable us to accomplish this difficult and never-ending work. We must confess when we have failed and seek His forgiveness and His strength to do this work. And so prove to be a faithful shepherd to the One Chief Shepherd.

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