For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh (Ephesians 2:14)
Naturally, I began to equate my thoughts for A Talking Donkey with my own personal life and experiences. Ha! Suffice to say that this concludes trying to nail down a particular topic or thinking that this thing will not "evolve" (but hopefully in a good way).
Today's Scripture Readings at Mass lend an opportunity to contemplate "identity". In the Gospel (Mark 6:30-34), we hear that when Jesus "saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd". In the First Reading (Jeremiah 23:1-6), God says "I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them". In the Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 23), we proclaim "The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want." What's all this about sheep and shepherds?
Well, first about the sheep thing. Sheep are animals of prey and are not thought of as being too "bright". In most regions, sheep have a tendency to group together in communities (flocks). When flocks are of mixed breeds, they tend to form sub communities of like breeds, and even more closely within those that they are most closely related to. Hmmmm. Generally, they will follow the first sheep in their flock to move, and become stressed when separated from their flock. (It's also interesting to note that in regions where they have no predators, sheep are less inclined to exhibit this congregational behavior.)
Understanding one's natural inclinations and tendencies, are a good first step in understanding one's identity. God is not demeaning us with this comparison. He is helping us to understand that we have become something lessor than what He created us to be. God created us in His image (Genesis 1:27), but because of sin, we have fallen short. (Romans 3:23)
Paul reminds us in today's Second Reading (Ephesians 2:13-18) that our true identity is in Christ. Speaking of Gentiles and Jews (from different flocks, if you will), he says that we are now one through Christ's flesh. In Galatians 3:28, Paul says it more clearly; "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
It's pretty easy to forget who I am sometimes, a lot of times. In fact, when I fall, the devil is really quick to "pull me over" to write that ticket. It's a good thing that my id card has a picture of Jesus on it.