Saturday, May 2, 2020

The Lord Is My Shepherd

I came that they might have life
and have it more abundantly.
                                                   John 10:10
Close your eyes and imagine a shepherd.  For me, it is a man, or maybe a teenage boy.  He carries a walking stick.  A herd of sheep follow behind.  A dog races to and fro.  His barks; demanding that wanderers return to the safety group.

Although I saw a shepherd once in real life, the image I just shared is based on a lesson I learned in elementary school religion class.  

The lesson was simple:  Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

The gospel for the 4th Sunday of Easter provides the text for this lesson.  One might say it is the original lesson, taught by the Good Shepherd himself.  

What do you remember of the story?  What do you remember of the lesson?

My strongest memory is that the sheep follow the Shepherd because they recognize his voice.  

The lesson has helped me throughout my life.  It reminds me to seek out the voice of Jesus.  It has helped me direct and more often redirect my life.  

When I reread today’s gospel, I came across a part of the story that I don’t remember so well.  It is about thieves and robbers who come to slaughter and destroy.  

Did the nuns think my classmates and I too young to learn about this part of the story?  My point here is not to criticize the lesson plans of my childhood teachers.  These wonderful women helped shape me into who I am.  

Yet, Jesus chose to make this “stranger-danger” part of his lesson.   John chose to weave it throughout his gospel account.  So, I want to examine it.

What robs me from hearing and recognizing the Shepherd’s voice?  

Is it that I’ve lost touch and can no longer distinguish the Shepherd’s voice from the other sounds around me?

Have I become overly attuned to other voices?

Could something from within be robbing me of Jesus’ life-giving words?  

Perhaps the negative tape; “I’m not ___________ enough” that plays in my mind?

Could it be the things I allow to steal their way into the “urgent” column in my daily planner?

The good Sisters of St. Joseph taught that filling heart and mind with good things would leave less room for things that were harmful.  

Let us all be more intent on listening for the Shepherd’s voice today and always.

At a distance but still blessed to be in ministry with you at St. Mary’s and wherever you are seeing this.


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