Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Personal Good Shepherd...

I, came across the following reflection, by one of my favorite authors; Fr. Carroll Stuhlmueller,C.P.
"...in the church where questions are thrashed out theologically with an eye to tradition and earlier practices, and beyond the church where new and unexpected manifestations of the Holy Spirit will startle us, was anticipated by Jesus in the parable of The Good Shepherd. In this story Jesus knows each of us sheep by name. He calls each one with a sound which reaches into the depths of their memory, all the way back to their birth when each one of us is given and a vocation for life. Each change of life, whether for the group or the individual, must be kept in continuity not only with each person's past life, but even with his ancestry from whom life and name have been received. Each change in life, moreover, must answer a personal call and touch a cord of love."

I have found that be so true in my own life. Each movement of years, and life's vocation, has demanded a new a new commitment, a new "YES". Each heartfelt "YES" resulted not only in the continuation, but an even deeper recommitment to what the original "yes" demanded. As you reflect on your life, what is happening, now, that demands a new response, on your part, and of those who share your life. Saying "yes" to the new, means saying good-bye to the old. We cannot rush the good-bye, and we cannot rush the grieving. As much as we want to rush the grieving process we do that at our own peril. Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples, to aid them in the process of change. So much difficulty and turmoil comes to us, as individuals, as couples, and as families, simple because the grieving work has not been done. Is this the time you will now say good-bye, to a past loss, to a past death? What have been the movement, or movements of your life, that shattered you in some way? We must say "good-bye" to them with anger and sorrow, so we can welcome the new, the vital, the vibrant, as it unfolds today, in the sacrament of the present moment.

Fr. Carroll, goes on to say..."Because the Good shepherd calls us by our name and leads us back and forth from our ancestry into our future, Jesus also compares Himself to the door of the sheepfold. The means by which we go back and forth turns out to be Jesus himself. Through Jesus we slip backward into our subconscious, into the depths of life, and become absorbed in the mystery of existence. WE hear our name spoken by Jesus: we experience the betrothal of love and a union of ecstasy. Through Jesus, we pass through a door into our very best self, our name as spoken by Jesus. Through this same door, which is Jesus, we are called to go forth into the activity of daily life, to mingle with other people, to form family, neighborhood and work crew, schools and clubs, activities and plans. To hear Jesus summon us by name , and to pass through the gate which is Himself, we go beyond the sheepfold into the wider world around us. We are lead to quench our thirst. Yet, at sundown we pass through the same door, which is Jesus, as the sound of our name is spoken by the same Good Shepherd, and we led back into the depths of ourselves, in silent prayer and sleep.

" In all this movement, as in ALL THIS REST, Jesus is at the center, and yet Jesus loses Himself in us. He calls OUR name in order to summon us forth to nourishment and pasture as well as to call us back to the silent prayer of the sheepfold........In all these moments, when the spirit seems to act abruptly and to lead us beyond our expectations-as happened to Peter in the Acts of the Apostles- when the spirit leads us to lay down our life as our best plans and ideals are lost within a family, a community or a church-these are the times we hear our names best-as spoken by JESUS.

May these words be a source of strength for you. May He, the Good Shepherd, and His constant care, be a source of encouragement, as you face the challenge of being His follower. The following is an old Celtic prayer. You can make it more personal when you change the word" Christ ", to "My Good Shepherd". In times of change and challenge, may the conviction that there a newness happening. In living this newness will be our personal witness to the Resurrection. Yes Christ has died, Yes Christ has risen, and yes Christ is alive and living largely within this person you are looking at right now.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in every heart of every man/woman who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouths of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.