LUKE 15: 1-10

The Good Shepherd

TODAY'S GOSPEL PLACES BEFORE US ONE OF THE MOST BELOVED IMAGES OF THE BIBLE, THAT OF THE JESUS, THE GOOD SHEPHERD.  Though he has many sheep to care for his whole concern is focused on the one who gets himself in trouble, having wandered off so far that he cannot find his way back to the flock.  Upon realizing the plight of the missing sheep he does not simply write him off but out of concern for this vulnerable member of the flock takes the trouble to go off to look for him so as to bring him back to safety.  Upon finding the wanderer he does not angrily punish the troublesome, careless one but rather takes pity on him, knowing he must be weary and frightened upon realizing he was alone and fearful at not knowing how to find his own way to safety.  Rather than beat or threaten the delinquent, this shepherd carries the anxious creature on his shoulders back to the safety of his familiar flock.

Sooner or later each person in this world comes to experience that he or she is alone in a world that holds various potential dangers, anyone of which can prove to be a disaster.  Threats to health, to well-being, to the sense of security so necessary for each of us to function abound on this earth.  We learn early in life to defend our self against such dangers by developing certain ways of acting and particular manners of diverting our conscious attention from disturbing awareness of our vulnerability.  Some forms of society evolve relatively effective support so that its members feel supported by their surroundings that assure them the necessities of a safe and satisfying existence.  Such basic human needs are not only physical but also psychological and social, and, most importantly, personal and spiritual that transcend the animal requirements that assure physical safety and satisfaction.

The recent election in our country has favored a government whose policies include oppressive laws inimical to basic Catholic and even basic Christian values, as a large number of Bishops and Protestant spokesmen have expressly stated.  A prominent archbishop has announced publicly that to vote for candidates who favor legalizing abortion and homosexual marriage is gravely sinful.  The recent election has shown us that the society that had once provided conditions that allowed for fidelity to those values essential for the unhindered practice of the Christian faith has become instead a threat to our fundamental values.  Similar and even harsher reactions of governments throughout the centuries have frequently tested the fidelity and courage of the Church.  God in his Providence has made use of such oppression to purify his people and lead them to greater holiness through resisting such opposition.  Our Lord, Jesus, the good shepherd, has always responded to such threats to his own chosen ones by making his loving concern for each one his own concern.  May each of us, and all our brothers and sisters in the Church prove steadfast and faithful to our Lord's teaching that of his loyal Church.  May we always confidently know that we are sustained by his love and the graces we are given through this holy Eucharist, which is the strength of his people, united in the Church.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger