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In the Name of the Father, and (+) of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Devotion from St. Peter Chrysologus
You have heard today how the Lord has joined the sound of the heavenly trumpet to the shepherd’s song, so that he might raise to divine matters the minds of his sheep that had been stooped down for so long, and immediately lift them up to the heavenly kingdom. Do not fear, little flock, it says, because it has conjointly pleased your Father to give you the kingdom (Lk 12:32). Humility has acquired what arrogance lost, and the little and meek flock has subdued every kind of savagery by its own gentleness. The little flock has conquered and crushed as many kinds of beasts as the nations were diverse that it put under the yoke of Christ.
The flock that was little and meek, endured being put to death, and for a long time submitted to being devoured, until the cruel pagans, filled up with blood and flesh, after partaking of the pleasant food of the Gospel and the streams of the divine fountain, would shun all sustenance coming from the world of their own kind, and after having deteriorated from being human to becoming beasts they would return from being beasts to becoming human. Moreover, that the prophets experienced this, that the apostles accomplished this, that the martyrs endured this, Scripture attests in that instance where it says: “On your account we are being slain all day long; we are considered as sheep for the slaughter.”
But for this flock of the new order to engage in battle, whereby the one who had been killed lives, the one who had fallen has conquered, and the one who loses his life finds it, it imitated its King, that sheep, and it followed that Lamb who “as a sheep was led to slaughter and as a lamb before its shearer, did not open its mouth.” The one who is silent suffers willingly; he screams who is slaughtered unwillingly; one cannot bewail death if he has deigned to accept death and was not coerced. It is a mark of power when one willingly dies for many; when one is led to death unwillingly it is a matter of great distress: because the first arises out of contempt for death, the second out of one’s natural condition.
So Christ is sheared like a sheep that is both willing and silent, in order to cover that nakedness that Adam first introduced. Just like a lamb he is killed so that by his sacrifice he may pardon the sin of the whole world. He lays down his life for the sheep in order to carry out both the devotion and the care of the shepherd. For you, therefore, he has become King, for you Priest, for you Shepherd, for you Sacrifice, for you the Sheep, for you the Lamb, for you for whom he had made everything he has become everything; and he who for himself never, but for you so often is changed; for your sake he is shown in various forms, he who remains in the form of his unique majesty. And why should I say more? God gives himself to you as a man so that you can bear it, because you are unable to endure him as he is. But let us hear now what such a Shepherd promises his little flock.
2. Do not fear, little flock, it says, because it has conjointly pleased your Father to give you the kingdom. What abundant goodness! What exceptional devotion! What unspeakable affection! The Shepherd receives the sheep as partners in his wealth, and the Lord grants the servants a share in his authority; the King admits the flock of the whole people to participate in the kingdom. In this manner does he make his gift, he whose wealth cannot be diminished, whose kingdom cannot be weakened, whose power cannot be lost by his generosity. But the Lord begins prudently by saying: Do not fear, little flock, because it has conjointly pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.
The one whose status is a servant is not able to hear the promise of a kingdom without fear, because the one who is hardly worthy of freedom is not strong enough to take up the insignia of sovereignty. Therefore, the Lord strengthens the minds of his servants with these words so that the unexpected news that the kingdom is promised them may not be their downfall. It is a crime for a servant to desire a kingdom, it is dangerous for him to hear such a thing, and it is reckless for him not to be fearful. But in Christ’s regard really how great or how wondrous is it that he gives the kingdom to servants, and that he makes his servants sharers with him in his authority, since he washes the feet of his servants in order to serve his servants with unparalleled service?
Let them come here, let them come who attack his power, and then let them argue about his benevolence when they are able to grasp, declare, and evaluate such great kindness…Come now, man, and spare yourself, because in order that you spare yourself, God washed your feet, he held them, and he embraced them!
Almighty God, merciful Father, since You have wakened from death the Shepherd of Your sheep, grant us Your Holy Spirit that when we hear the voice of our Shepherd we may know Him who calls us each by name and follow where He leads; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
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