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The Perspective of Justice

12th Sunday of Ordinary Time
June 19, 2016
Gerald Darring

A Two-Sided Coin

There are two images of God in today’s liturgy: that of the shepherd of the people, and that of the suffering messiah. The first image presents us with a God who is “guide and protector of your people.” The other image is of a God who “must first endure many sufferings, be rejected by the elders, and be put to death.” The first image is of a God who will “keep us one in your peace, secure in your love.” The other image of God challenges us to “deny one’s very self, take up one’s cross each day, and follow in his steps.”

Religion is a two-sided coin. On the one hand, it comforts us with the security of God’s love and protection. On the other hand, it makes demands of us that are frightening in their consequences. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, represents a combination of the two aspects of religion. I give my life for my sheep,” he says, for he is the shepherd and the sacrificial victim. Those of us who follow Jesus must rely on God’s protection and must “endure many sufferings.” We must care for God’s people and we must give our lives for them.

Anything short of that is not the religion of the Good Shepherd.

To set out on the road to discipleship is to dispose oneself for a share in the cross. To be a Christian ... is not simply to believe with one’s mind, but also to become a doer of the word, a wayfarer with and a witness to Jesus. This means, of course, that we never expect complete success within history and that we must regard as normal even the path of persecution and the possibility of martyrdom.

U.S. Bishops, The Challenge of Peace, 1983: 276

Gerald Darring

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