On Good Shepherd Sunday wherein we hear, listen to, drink in the Gospel in John 10 where Jesus says that he’s the good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. In the beauty of salvation, the economy of salvation Jesus show us what it means to be the Good Shepherd laying down His life on our behalf, protecting us from that which was ours as a direct result of the Fall in the Garden. Oh Happy Fault that led to the Glorious Day when Jesus defeated physical and spiritual death in His Resurrection.
Leading up to Good Shepherd Sunday this video was all over my twitter feed. It is at once hilarious to see this sheep get unstuck from the ditch by a shepherd, and running off in the direction it’s going only to get stuck again. The Deacon at our parish preached on Jesus being the Gate, guarding the sheep, protecting them from predators, but also as evidenced from the video, from themselves. We also see an exercise in free-will here as the sheep bolts off in the direction it was going without pausing to look around to see where it is before taking any kind of action and getting stuck again. As I reflected on this I see myself, I see our Faith, and after reading and reflecting on women of the old Testament, this is a life cycle pattern for us. For a bit things are going well, I make choices that order my life towards the one who Loves, Guards, Sustains, Creates, Guides, Corrects, Loves. Things seem to go along like a delightful summer picnic for a while. You know the one where there are not too many creatures trying to consume either the food or my person. The habits return that are not ordered toward the One who Loves and the One who Loves offers opportunities to turn towards Him, and in my no there is a correction. The thing of it too is that looking at the Cross suffering here can be salvific.
Several weeks before marrying my Sweetie I had a conversation with my dad. My parents divorced when I was a tween, it wasn’t pleasant. In one sense it was a bit of a relief as the fighting (verbal) in the house was over, in another it was the beginning of differently hard times. As any kid of divorced parents knows life after divorce has it’s challenges, even if it was necessary. My conversation with my dad has stayed with me all this time as his desire was that I didn’t need to have the experiences I did that were essentially leading me, developing in me, honing in me a mindset of servitude (how he perceived some of my choices) towards others. Perspectively speaking I saw this service to others in a very different way, one of honoring people, loving them. Perhaps it is a both service and servitude. And yet in so many ways I see what my dad meant in that moment. Sometimes putting people before yourself is not a good thing, it is, as Jesus shows us, not good. Jesus takes time to go connect with the Father on a regular basis. There are times when Jesus is heading off to spend some time on his own, to rest his human person, and stays to continue healing them, having pity on them. Even in the midst of a raging storm on the sea Jesus is sleeping, getting the rest he needs in order to continue on in His ministry, teaching, guiding, shaping, spending time with Apostles and disciples. And just like them there are moments when I totally panic because the storm is raging around me. Ironically I love thunderstorms.
Prayer, going to Church, receiving the Word and the Word in the Eucharist, and participating in community life are all ways to listen for the Voice of the Shepherd. Staying near Him is the best way to be Guarded, to be at peace in the midst of whatever struggle, difficult time is going on . I’m in the middle of reading and rereading Strange Gods by Elizabeth Scalia. I started reading it as part of the prayer time before Mass some time ago then the Womens Book study chose this as our next book so I’m still reading it, and rereading as we prepare for the group study in a few weeks. I’ll reread the chapters preparing for each week as a refresher. oh how wildly weird this is but oh so good. I’m also offering this to the ladies in the Catholic Women Pushing 50 and beyond group.Wow. This feels like a lot, however it’s something I’m enjoying digging into. This is one of the ways in which I see the Good Shepherd leading me, showing me the places in my life that are in need of correction, care and changes. The beauty of this is coming to a fuller understanding that God loves me deeply. God has provided me with a community. Oh how God has provided me with a Community. We’re all sheep longing for that time with the Shepherd that will remind us of His voice, His scent, his grace and mercy.
I’m off to quilt and read, and prepare to teach this week again. Yep you read that correctly I’m teaching quilting here locally.
Before I go though I want to share a bit on the title of todays post, Great Expectations. I have them, great expectations, of myself, sometimes of others, often of God. One of the things about being Shepherded is that the expectations get set aside in favor of listening for direction, looking to the Shepherd as He leads. I can expect that God is leading and guiding and my following will take me where the longing of my heart is, experiencing fully His Presence. Not that this isn’t happening here and now, it is. And it’s in the not yet. I think you get where I”m going, long to go, yearn for, and yet want to live fully here present where God has me in this moment, and so Great Expectations.