Shared Homily Starter
Theologian Diarmuid O'Murchu recently gave a 2-day workshop in Vancouver. In one of his talks, he questioned why King David is held up as an icon and why the Gospel writers would want David as part of the genealogy of Jesus. David may have been a good shepherd boy but as a king, he was a tyrant and he set in motion events that would 'destroy and scatter' God's people. For example, David had at least seven wives not counting his concubines yet he coerced the wife of one of his most loyal soldiers to sleep with him. Then in order to hide his adultery, he sent the soldier on a mission on which he knew the outcome would be the soldier's death. David's lust is a metaphor for greed. He has more than enough but he still wants more even if it means another has to die.
Today's first reading suggests that perhaps world leaders have like David traded in their shepherd boy goodness for kingly power, ruthlessness and injustice. Today as always there are exceptions to unholy power-seeking but historically, we can see that religious as well as secular leaders are also prone to greed and the pursuit of power. Today, the injustice and ruthlessness of those in power all around the globe is more lethal than ever before. But the first reading is also telling us this is not then end of the story.
God will “raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing”, that is no one will be excluded. So I think the Gospel writers place King David in the genealogy of Jesus to show that Jesus is, as the prophet Jeremiah tells us, the First of the righteous Branch that God whom raised up to execute justice and righteousness. Just as Jesus is often referred to as the “new Adam,” the gospel writers may be suggesting that Jesus is the “new David”, who shows leaders how to get it right. The second reading appears to back that up. Paul tells the Ephesians and us that Jesus came to proclaim peace to and for all the “us's” and all the “thems.” If we take Jesus' teaching to heart, we will know that we all have equal access to God's love.
The setting of today's gospel is just before the feeding of the five thousand. Now remember that in the first reading God promised to “raise up shepherds” plural. What Jesus is doing in today's gospel is teaching his followers to be shepherds and care for the sheep. The gospel says he showed them compassion “because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.” Jesus teaches them compassion by modelling compassion. When you consider that this is the prelude to feeding the five thousand, maybe one of the things he taught them was the value of sharing.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where today, 80 people own as much wealth as half the world's population and nearly a billion people can barely afford to feed their families.1” We live in Canada where the richest person in our country owns more wealth than the bottom seven million people.2” These statistics make me want to agree with Parker Palmer when he suggests the real miracle in the feeding of the five thousand was getting everyone to share the little food they had and in so doing everyone was fed.
Today more than any other time in history, people in countries all over the world, people of all faiths and no faith, are waking up. People not blinded by wealth or the pursuit of power are beginning to realize that we are all in this together. Perhaps now is the time promised in Jeremiah, when God's flock is united in the quest for justice, equality and wholeness. Not just for themselves but for nature and for everyone, everywhere, that is, justice and well-being for the Earth and all her inhabitants. All creation sings when we remember that when we share no one goes hungry.
Please share your thoughts.
2Oxfam Canada. “Voices for Change” Donor Newsletter, Summer 2015, p. 4