Friday, April 16, 2010

The Shepherd's Crook

It is amazing how one little sentence can open up new vistas for you in your understanding of Scripture. In today's Office of Readings (the office formerly know as "Matins,"), Theodore the Studite (wouldn't you like to go through life known as "the Studite?") says about the Cross, among many other very awesome things, "By the cross we, the sheep of Christ, have been gathered into one flock, destined for the sheepfolds of heaven." This made me think of Psalm 23, which I learned as a child in the KJV version. "Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." The victory over death and the devil gained by the Cross helps the Father look at the Cross of Christ as a comfort, a consolation.

Psalm 23 is an amazing foreshadowing of the entire Gospel. It is especially reminiscent of the Gospel of John. It contains allusions to baptism ("he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul"), Jesus as the Way ("he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake"), The Eucharist ("Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine cup runneth over"), Confirmation ("thou anointest my head with oil"), the life of Grace and forgiveness ("Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life"), and everlasting life ("and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever"), victory of light over darkness ("Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me"), victory over the enemy ("Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies"). And, right in the middle, is the Cross, just as in the Gospel.

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