Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lacking No Good Thing

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want (lack); he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters (by waters of rest); he restores my soul (life). He leads me in paths of righteousness (right paths) for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (the valley of deep darkness), I 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 (only) goodness and mercy (kindness) shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever (as long as I live).

In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, “Our Father,” not “My Father;” but, here, it is personal: “The Lord is my Shepherd,” not “The Lord is Our Shepherd,” or “the Shepherd.” This is because we are disciplined individually, although it is for the benefit of the entire Body. The Body of Christ will persevere, but I must also persevere individually; hence, “the Lord is my Shepherd.”

“I shall not want.” This means not only will I not lack in heaven but I do not lack now. Many times I forget this. At this present time, I lack no good thing. Jesus had no place to lay His precious head while He was here, yet at no time did He lack any good thing. During His Passion, He lacked no good thing. As a matter of fact, He was made perfect through His suffering. I must remember that we will be made perfect through our sufferings. Too often, I allow the desire for worldly goods distract me. When unpleasant circumstances confront me, I too often forget that it is a good thing ordained by God, that it is His will, and I react adversely. Because everything that is good belongs to God, under His control, He gives to us abundantly.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures.” This is the Catholic Church and the Sacraments. This is where I meet Christ bodily, resting in His presence. This is also where I am taught and fed His Body and Blood; this is where I am forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance. “He restores my soul,” my life. In St. Augustine’s words: “In a place of pasture, there has He placed me. In a place of fresh pasture, leading me to faith, there has He placed me to be nourished. By the water of refreshing has He brought me up. By the water of baptism, whereby they are refreshed who have lost health and strength, has He brought me up.”

“He leads me in paths of righteousness (right paths) for his name’s sake.” Once again, He does this through the teachings and Sacraments of the Catholic Church. To quote St. Augustine again: “He has converted my soul: He has led me forth in the paths of righteousness, for His Name's sake. He has brought me forth in the narrow ways, wherein few walk, of His righteousness--not for my merit's sake, but for His Name's sake.”

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (the valley of deep darkness), I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” This world is “the valley of deep darkness,” yet I often forget this and treat it as “home.” It is deep darkness by virtue of its wickedness and enticing temptations. It was Enoch who built the first city, encircling it with wall, while the line of Seth lived in tents. Seth knew he was a pilgrim in this world, but Enoch made a permanent dwelling for he had no faith: He saw this world as home. Christ’s rod and staff comfort me although they are at times painful. The difficulties with which He confronts me are for my good, for my salvation. I am comforted because He is mindful of me—using the words of St. Augustine.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely (only) goodness and mercy (kindness) shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever (as long as I live).” This can be nothing less than the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Eucharist. No matter what persecutions may arise, “only goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”  TT