The Divine Dialogue of God with the Soul
by Mother Marie Julie, SCMC
My Dear Good People,
Today is Called Good Shepherd Sunday because of the Gospel, John 10: 11-18, in which Jesus speaks of Himself as the Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep, and of His sheep (that’s you and I) who need His care.
I know a little bit about sheep. At least about one sheep. When we were growing up we had a lamb, a sweet ewe named Humphrey. (Don’t ask.) She was an indoor lamb for long enough for us to learn to love her very much, the way children love a pet. My brother Marc bottle-fed her, carried her around, and she slept in the boys’ room. She didn’t do stairs so she was an upstairs lamb for a while. Then we put her outside where she lived happily. Not ever after, though. She met an untimely end–I won’t talk about that, either. But between the time she moved outside and she met her end, she got into a PECK of trouble. Not because she was naughty, but because she wasn’t very smart. She was very unsmart, actually. Sheep-type unsmart, always in need of care. Once she ate our entire onion patch. (Why did we have an onion patch? Don’t ask.) She got pretty sick. She would get herself stuck in the strangest places, too, needing to be rescued–often several times. She’d try to play with our ducks and geese and our three little pigs, all of which would chase her around the pen or the yard. You might have heard her plaintive cries as she ran away from these birds and mammals–she had great lungs.
But she loved my brother, who fed her, played with her, saved her from those pesky birds, called her by name (she always came running if she wasn’t stuck somewhere) and put her safely to bed at night. She more than once followed Marc on his paper route (which he did on horseback) and they even made the front page of the Sunday paper once.
I remember hearing this Gospel read in religion class at school and thinking about Marc and Humphrey, about how they loved each other. She trusted him, and he took care of her, just as Jesus said He would do for us, His sheep. I recall thinking I would always be safe in the arms of that Good Shepherd. That image has never left me.
I wish all of you could have had a lamb. You would have learned that the little creature needs a shepherd to care for it, to call it by name and to rescue it, even over and over. And whenever you heard this Gospel read in Church, you would know exactly what Jesus was promising: to be the one we could always trust because, like sheep, we often go astray. This is almost like an extra Easter Gospel, with Jesus telling us not to be afraid but to trust Him. He is, indeed, our Good Shepherd, whether we think we are part of a huge flock or just a little lamb all by our self on a big, scary farm. Today Jesus reminds us, I am the Good Shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…. I know mine, and mine know Me. A perfect symbiosis.
Perhaps we aren’t ready to think of ourselves as a lamb in need of a Shepherd. But in the quiet of our hearts, on our worst days there’s a part of us that wants to be cared for by the Good Shepherd. We often find ourselves feeling lost, and nobody wants to stay lost.
Today we can pray in the words of Psalm 23:
The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.
In fertile pastures He gives me repose.
Beside restful waters He leads me;
He refreshes my soul….
Even though I walk in the dark valley,
I fear no evil for You are with me
with your rod and your staff to comfort me….
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.