The Good Shepherd Discourse and the 144,000


sprayI saw another angel come up from the rising of the sun, holding the seal of the God of life… I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the Israelites… Revelation 7:3-4

A second time the angel of the NAME called to Abraham from heaven: “…I will bless you and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore.” Genesis 22:15-18

Our Second reading for Fourth Sunday of Easter comes from Revelation 7, after the first quote above. 144,000 is a countable number. God tells Abraham how his descendants will be as the stars of the sky and the sands of the sea, is not countable.

Our reading for today? “I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.” We think we are the 144,000? The 144,000 are all Jews according to Revelation. If we are of the 144,000, we are Jewish, the minority in heaven. If we are Jewish, we are still bound to the 613 laws of Judaism. Acts 15 and Galatians 2 discuss the issue. If we are not Jewish, we are not bound to the 613 laws.

The sheep of his flockJesus tells the Samaritan Woman, “You will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… Luke 9:47-50

The Samaritans were from the radical out group. Members of the radical out group of will be in heaven. The radical in group, of the first century and today, Pharisee and Christian, will look in from outside heaven.

In Luke 9:50 John condemns someone for casting out demons in Jesus’ name. They are not in his group.  Jesus tells him people do not have to be in Jesus’ club to be for Jesus.

“They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb/Omer. They stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple.”

easter picPsalm 118 tells us, “The stone/Eben which the builders/Ben rejected has become the Rosh Piña. Jesus puns this passage. “Do not say, ‘The Eben/stone,’ but ‘Ben,’ Son.” The Son which the builders rejected has become the “Rosh Piña.

“Piña,” means a radical movement in a new direction. “Rosh Piña is not “Rosh Piña Eben/Chief corner stone. The Rosh Piña is not a stone. He is the living altar, Jesus Christ, the center of our lives. Jesus on the altar is the source and summit of our lives.

“The Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of lifegiving water.” John describes the life giving water in the wedding at Cana. The stone jars are the same size as people. First we fill ourselves with the water of penance, then Jesus turns our penance into wine, inebriation.

God makes the grass grow for the cattle and plants for people’s work to bring forth food from the earth, wine to gladden their hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread to sustain the human heart. Psalm 104: 14-15 The living water gladdens the human heart.

John 1 relates the meaning of Lamb/Omer. “In the beginning was the Word/Omer, and the Word/Omer was with God, and the Word/Omer was God.” John puns to describe Jesus as the Lamb/the word of God. The Lamb is about sacrifice for others. The Word is about sacrificing ourselves for others.

“I saw another angel come up from the rising of the sun, holding the seal of the God of life.” “God of Life,” is in what scholars call the construct case. It can mean, “Living God,” or “God of Life.”

Our Gospel comes from John 10 and follows the Good Shepherd Discourse. Jesus tells us, he is the Good Shepherd and comes to give life to the full for all his sheep. Our God is the God of life. He comes to bring life to all people. As in our Second Reading, John 10 tells us, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold….”

Why count 144,000? Why engage in the exercise of trying to figure who is among the 144,000, who is in, and who is out?  Is Christ, the living temple be the center of our lives? Shouldn’t we prepare for the day when we all worship the One True God from his mountain, bringing all to the life giving waters?

For a more detailed exposition for this Sunday’s Readings please go to this site.

For articles on other Sunday Readings go to this site.

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