ON THIS TWENTY-EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME we are treated to one of the most famous and profound Psalms in Sacred Scripture – Psalm 23. This Psalm is heard predominately at Funeral Masses, but the words of the Psalmist are worth pondering any time of the year. Years ago on EWTN I heard a parody of Psalm 23 which I would like to share with your today:
The TV is my shepherd I shall not want,
It makes me to lie down on the sofa.
It leads me away from the faith,
It destroys my soul.
It leads me to the path of sex and violence for the advertiser’s sake.
Even though I walk in the shadow of Christian responsibilities,
there will be no interruption, for the TV is with me.
Its cable and remote control, they comfort me.
It prepares a commercial for me in the midst of my worldliness
and anoints my head with secular humanism and consumerism.
My covetousness runs over;
Surely ignorance and laziness shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of wretchedness watching TV forever.
Folks, I enjoy watching a good television program as much as the next person, although “good television” programs are increasingly harder to find. Interesting how when I was growing up we had four television channels – the three networks: ABC, CBS and NBC; PBS entered the scene a bit later – and there was always something “good” to watch; now we have over 100 channels and it seems like there is not much worth watching. But hour after hour, there many find themselves transfixed on watching “nothing,” filling our minds with a lot of nothingness and emptiness, and so much of what is on TV is dehumanizing, and some of what we watch we imitate – “life imitating art.” What an empty way to live. But there is another way to live, and it is conveyed to us in Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.
This is a beautiful way to live. Pope Saint John Paul II encouraged people many times to find life to the full by following Jesus as he said words like this, “Do not be afraid to open the doors to Christ…” In Palestine the shepherd brought the sheep into the sheepfold every night. It was a circular stone wall with an opening or door where the sheep entered. Once the sheep were inside for the night the shepherd slept in that opening or door all night. The sheep could not get out without stepping over the shepherd’s body which meant they would not get out at all during the night. Jesus is the gate, anyone who enters through him will be safe, and will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture. Others steal and kill and destroy but Jesus is the Good Shepherd. As we contemplate Jesus as our Shepherd – the Good Shepherd – let us pray that many may listen to the voice of Jesus as He calls, that we may turn away from those things which distract us from following Jesus and living a life in Him, and instead nurture and nourish our minds and hearts with His words – the Living Word – so that we may have life and live it to the fullest.
-Fr. Mike Lumpe