Jesus Our Shepherd

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
13 September 2009

Homily
Fr. Francis Baiocchi

On our church wall in Nenno , there is a quotation of Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit theologian and scientist of the last century. “Here on earth,” it states, “we are not human beings on a spiritual journey; we are Spirit beings on an earthly journey.” Our origin and destiny is with God, but the journey between is on this planet Earth.

Today we stand under a tent, reminding us that earth is not our permanent home. As the Hebrew people of old lived and journeyed in desert land for generations before reaching that Promised Land flowing with milk and honey, so also we must recognize that we are people not at home but journeying toward home.

There are certain essentials for people on a journey. The Hebrew people of old knew this. They learned three things: they learned to travel lightly. They learned not to wander from their tribal communities. And they learned to stay close to the water sources available to them.

These are the same lessons for us today as we travel our earthly journey. First, travel lightly. We can’t allow ourselves to be weighed down by our possessions, by our desire for the latest advertised fashions and gimmicks. The more we have, the less efficiently we travel, and the less mindful we become of our destination. The Hebrews in the desert never considered making their homes there. They lived in tents, setting them up and taking them down as they journeyed along. They knew they were not destined to be desert dwellers forever. Nor are we destined to be earth dwellers forever. So we should travel lightly, not letting our possessions own us or slow us down.

Secondly, the Hebrews knew there was strength and safety within their community so they didn’t wander far. If we value our community: the love, acceptance and support we experience here, we wont wander far either because temptations and dangers lurk out there that can be beyond the strength of anyone to deal with alone.

The third lesson is this: stay close to water, since without water, we die. The Hebrews of old understood this, and they survived in the desert. Jesus tells us that he is the Bread of Life and Living Water that completely satisfies us. With Jesus nourishing us we become strong and determined travelers, more fully aware that we are truly Spirit beings on an earthly journey – a journey whose final destination is a wondrous home flowing with that milk and honey promised us by our Abba God.

Well here we are now under a tent. We traveled light to get here. And we do have refreshing water nearby. Best of all, we are surrounded by a caring and supportive community. I think it’s a great starting point for this first day of the remainder of our journey on planet Earth!