Wednesday, 19 November 2014

23/11/14 The Lord is my shepherd

Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe (Year A)

Welcome back to a little liturgy.  Thanks for logging on again!  This week we are focusing on kings and our relationship with God. I have tried to look at the idea of height and God being above us, whilst debunking the myth of God floating about in the clouds.  However, I couldn't resist referencing the glorious Michelangelo "Creation" which may throw the spanner back in the works!  I have talked to my son about seeing God in other people and trying to identify his character rather then becoming fixated on what he actually is.  For those of you who are new - the green section is designed to be printed and taken to Mass.  I hope you find something useful!

Summary of Liturgy of the Word

First Reading
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
Ezekiel tells us that the Lord has promised to look after his sheep and rescue them if they are lost in the dark.  He will also care for any sheep that are injured  and watch over the healthy ones.  He will be a "true shepherd".

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 22:1-3, 5-6. R.v.1
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
St Paul tells us that just as Adam brought death into the world, Christ brings life.  He also describes how one day the world as we know it will end and earthly powers and authorities will cease to matter.  Death will be defeated and God will then be "all in all".

Matthew 25:31-46
This week Jesus talks of the Last Judgement.  He says that there will be a time when God judges people and separates them out as if they were different like sheep and goats.  The sheep will be placed at his right hand and will be able to enter the kingdom of heaven.  The goats will be placed on his left hand and will suffer eternal punishment.  The people who are kind and generous to their neighbour are like the sheep; they have recognised God in the people they help.  The people who are like goats are those who neglected to follow Christ's example and did not behave like Christians towards their neighbours.


This week's readings focus on God as shepherd, God as saviour and God as judge.  Recently we have heard about God being like a master or a rich man and have heard Christ use parables to describe what the kingdom of heaven is like.  Here the comparisons are more straightforward and God features as himself in the readings.  We however, are described as being like sheep or goats.

It is not easy for us to understand God as we are often trapped by our human perceptions of the world.  To help us understand we must listen to the scripture readings carefully and think about how the ideas presented affect our lives and the way we behave.

Ezekiel tells us that God will look after us as a shepherd and help us in difficulty.  This idea is continued in the psalm.  We hear the psalmist say how the Lord accompanies him on all his journeys and provides food and rest.  In the Gospel we are still encouraged to think of ourselves as sheep but are also warned about behaving like goats.  The sheep who have led a virtuous life are rewarded by being accepted into God's Kingdom but the goats who have behaved badly are thrown into eternal fire with the devil.  God will guide us and help us in many ways as a good shepherd but we have to take our part.  In this case, the virtuous people are those who have recognised Christ in others and shown charity and kindness to those in need.

St Paul talks about Christ coming to save us from death.  He says that in the end, we will all be subject to God who is "all in all".  This gives us an image of God as being beyond any human world and being the life in everything.

Activity at Mass

You might like to print out parts of the Mass from this website to help with this week's activity:

Liturgy Office Website

This week, as we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, we think about how we might honour God as King.  Often we think of God being above us because a king is superior and rules "over" his people.  (think of "long to reign o'er us" in the British national anthem")  We put ourselves below someone to show respect.  It is interesting to note that even on the cross God was above us.

We also have evidence from the Old Testament that God was found up a mountain or speaking from the sky.  Clearly, we do not believe that God is somehow sitting on a cloud but these spaces were often inaccessible to humans and showed the distance between God and us in a physical way.

We reflect the idea that God is high with our physical movements throughout the liturgy and with the design and layout of the church.  Look out for the things listed below.  Tick them when you see them:

we genuflect

we kneel down

the tabernacle is raised behind the altar

there are steps up to the altar

incense wafts upwards

the book of the Gospels is raised above our heads

the consecrated host is raised

the chalice is raised

the priest genuflects

the processional cross is raised high

Look out also for words to do with God being above us:

"You alone are the most high"

"He came down from heaven"

"he ascended into heaven"

"Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord"

"hosanna in the highest"

"and with eyes raised to heaven" (Eucharistic Prayer I)

We could also pay particular attention to the Gloria this week.  It is our song of praise for God and we will not sing it again until Christmas Day.

"Glory to God in the highest"  or "Gloria in excelsis Deo"

Make a special effort to join in with this today and think about all the different words we use to give glory. 

praise, bless, adore, glorify, give you thanks

Notice that we address God  by using the word "you" many times.  This makes us feel that we are talking directly to God.

In this prayer we also ask God to do two things for us.  Write these requests here:



Other activities and resources

Listen to the start of Vivaldi's Gloria which is sung in Latin.  How does the music encourage us to feel about God?

Vivaldi's Gloria on youtube

At the Epiphany the three Kings visited Jesus and brought gifts for a king:  gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Look up the significance of these gifts at:

Gifts for a king

You might also enjoy looking at these paintings that appear in the Sistine Chapel in Rome.  They show the ideas that a past generation used to portray our relationship with God.  You could think about making your own piece of art to describe how you feel about God and the kingdom of heaven.

Michelangelo's Creation of Adam

Michelangelo's Last Judgement


Last week's question

Why do we sometimes say "Christ" and sometimes "Jesus"?


The name "Jesus" is related to the Hebrew name "Joshua" which means "God saves".  In Luke's Gospel we see the Angel Gabriel telling Mary that this is the name she should give her son.

"Christ" is a Greek title meaning "anointed".  It is a translation of the Hebrew word meaning "Messiah" or "chosen one".  When Jesus asks Peter who he thinks he is  Peter says "You are the Christ" (Mark 8,29).

So when we use the term "Jesus Christ" we are referring to a name "Jesus" and recognising who we believe him to be i.e."Christ" (God's chosen one).  This is a bit similar to how  we might refer to "Mrs Smith, the teacher"; we use a personal name and then a job title.

The different writers of the New Testament swap between these names.  Often they refer to "Jesus" when they are telling us stories about what happened in day to day life and "Christ" or "Lord Jesus Christ" when they are referring to the purpose of Jesus as Son of God.  

We use many different titles for Jesus in our liturgy and prayers.  I think we tend to use "Jesus" when we are being a little less formal and want to stress our friendship with God and "Christ" when we are showing more official respect.  What do you think?

Consider these lines from famous hymns:

Christ the Lord is risen today
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay
Shine Jesus Shine
Christ be beside me

Of course the words "Christmas" and "Christian" are derived from the name "Christ".  They mean "Mass of the anointed one" and "follower of the anointed one".  

This week's question

How will I be able to tell that it's Advent when I come to church next week?

Have a good week!


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