"I will appoint over you shepherds after my own heart, who will shepherd you wisely and prudently." Jer 3:15
On Sunday last, our Africa pilgrimage group prayed the Eucharist with the desperately poor of the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya. It was a compelling, joyful and beautiful celebration that was marked more by the inclusion of the assembly, the people of God than anything else. Although three of us were concelebrating, we were more like orchestra leaders than soloists. Led by children dancing us slowly and reverently into church, the entire assembly alternately sang, clapped hands and waved our arms to the processional song for about ten minutes. The procession with the lectionary was even longer and more reverent. As they say, you had to be there!
Perhaps because there is no resident priest in this very large chapel, the prayer, ritual gestures and music were arranged by lay leaders who were, indeed, our shepherds. They were, as Jeremiah reminds us, wise and prudent, making sure everyone was included in the Eucharist. One little gesture was telling. No one living in the Mathare slum has more than a shack with no running water or electricity, but each person, or a member of each family, came from their place to the front of church to put their few Kenyan shillings into the collection box. I have seen this before in Protestant churches, but never in a Catholic setting. It spoke volumes. This is your church. Each of you, as best you can, must support it. Although the Eucharist was long and elaborate, one of our 17 year old pilgrims said it best: That could not have been two and half hours. I never lost my attention!
Today, be a wise and prudent shepherd. Include everyone in your love.
What does being a member of Christ's body mean to you in your daily life?