“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
On this Good Shepherd Sunday we celebrate the fact of what our Shepherd has done for us. He has given his life for ours. Consider this, there are many things and people that will try to claim your loyalty. Maybe it is a political party, maybe it is a philosophy, maybe it is the boss at work, maybe it is popular opinions. But there is only one contender for your loyalty who ever died for you. His Name is Jesus. He alone is worthy of your most fundamental loyalty since he alone gave his life for you. Freely he died, not merely as a victim of circumstances. He laid down his life of his own accord and he took it up again. Only Jesus died for you.
I have often wondered what it must have been like for the Blessed Mother and also for St. Joseph. They were told remarkable things about their Son Jesus. They were told he would save his people from their sins, that he was destined for the rise and downfall of many, that his name would be great and that he was the Son of God. But for all this, they were given very little detail as to how all this would unfold. Perhaps from time to time they wondered, “Did I really hear all that from the angel?….How will all this come to pass?” In the end Joseph and Mary had to walk by faith, not knowing all the details but just trusting that God had it all worked out.
And isn’t it the same for us? I don’t know exactly what the future hold but I do know Him who holds the future. And I trust him. Isn’t that enough? It has to be because God isn’t going to show me the road map. He is just going to say, I am the Way, follow me. Don’t worry where we are going, just follow me.
Here is a video that meditates on Mary’s walk of faith: Mary Did you know?
One of the last unprotected classes in the world is believing Christians. There is much lament rightly expressed over discrimination against other religious, ethnic and various protected groups but it is usually open seasons on Christians with a special hatred reserved for the Catholic Church. It is “alright” to use ugly stereotypes and hateful imagery regarding Christians. Unsympathetic simplifications of our doctrine are common as are ugly labels such as “reactionary, hateful, homophobic, intolerant, backward and rigid.” The President recently insisted that the name of Jesus be covered over at Georgetown while he spoke there no one cried foul (even at Georgetown! 🙁 ). No one would ever dare suggest that holy symbols be covered over at a mosque or synagogue. But it is open season on Christians. Perhaps it is because we seldom speak out against things such as this.
A rather interesting development along these lines took place at the World Conference on Racism. A Russian Orthodox Delegate to the conference actually suggested that there may be such a thing as hatred against Christians. He chided the other delegates for saying nothing about what he termed “Christianophobia” while at the same time denouncing many other forms of hatred. It seems a long overdue observation and thanks are due to this courageous delegate. More about this story at Gloria TV: