sexta-feira, 11 de dezembro de 2015
LEAVING THE CORRAL
I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:6b (read 23:1-6) - NIV
We are born to grow. It is tragic not to grow into maturity. We learn to crawl, to walk, to talk, to live without diapers, to dress ourselves, to feed ourselves, to groom ourselves, to go to school and to take responsibilities. With everything running normally, we come to maturity. We move out of the house of our parents and establish our own home and our own profession. We earn our autonomy.
In the 23rd Psalm the sheep fold is the cradle. It is the time of childhood and immaturity, the time of primary learning. Few notice that in this Psalm the sheep stops being a sheep and evolves into becoming a special guest sitting at a table. But in church we are taught to glorify “sheephood” and be sheep forever. In the popular view a good Christian is a good sheep. We serve the church by giving our wool and our milk. We are very useful to the church by just remaining as sheep.
In this biblical text, the author leaves the dependent and dumb sheep state to become a guest of honor at a banquet table prepared especially for him. His glass is filled with so much wine that spills over. Can you imagine a sheep sitting at a table drinking wine?
There is transformation. The guest is treated with dignity and honor. He’s no longer a creature that needs to be conducted as though he had no judgment of his own. He now has wisdom to be able to make his own choices and to accept invitations. Here is a picture of freedom and autonomy. He is present at the table by choice and not because he was conducted. He is no longer just another "sheep" in a flock, but a personality. He has escaped from the flock in the corral.
At the end of the Psalm, the author has graduated from being a mere guest to become a member of the family. Now the relationship is of interdependence, equality and mutual love.
Jesus had trouble with the religious authorities of his time, because He did not let himself be “massified”. By his relationship with "Daddy," Jesus was no longer simply a "good Jew", shaped by the institutional values of his time. He became a “black sheep" and did not to follow the flock.
Our challenge today is to graduate from the first part of the 23rd Psalm and reach the final part. It is comfortable to be a sheep forever and live by the rules of the corral. Institutions, both religious and civil, lay down the rules that all should follow. Each one transmits its biases and tries to determine limits. To be mature is to have a vision that goes beyond imposed standards.
Jesus could dwell in “Daddy’s house" here on earth, because he had a vision of a “Kingdom” which includes the whole world and which embodies the standards of love and justice for all. In order to imitate Jesus our mature faith must surpass the barriers that our communities erect. We need to get out of the corral and live love and justice in this world which is beyond the reach of our institutions. Growth leads to new realities and broadens horizons. We can go from being mere sheep in a corral to become members of a Divine family which is present in a world which is in need of love and justice.
PSALM 23 – NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord