Are we sheepish in our shepherding?
It is more common than not that people believe that priests are sheepish when it comes to certain topics: abortion, politics, lifestyles, sin and hell, and the like. Advocates of such a statement find that administrators/pastors/priests don’t want “to rock the boat” or be controversial on such precarious subjects. Sometimes, it may be that people feel strongly about an issue and want others to have the same passion and position. And all this can create tension within a faith community.
That is part and parcel of the Good Shepherd’s call and life: laying down one’s own life to bring the life of Christ present among the community of faith. And also, there is something deeper and more substantial that exists. Jesus also says in today’s gospel, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.” He does not say that these others are bad, evil, sinful, or even incorrect in their doctrine or way of life. Maybe that is Jesus’ challenge to us all.
How do we shepherd in gathering people together for the possibility of “one flock, one shepherd?” Do we invite people into the gateway, to join in fellowship, and to seek what we have in common? Please do not misunderstand me. It is imperative for the integrity of communion in community that we share our Roman Catholic Faith Tradition, cherishing it by our observance of Christ Jesus’ teaching and the sacredness of our worship. It is equally valid that each of us has some “shepherding” responsibility in various degrees and types.
Our gathering is a grace opportunity for fellowship (especially in our worship), and fellowship extends communication, with the latter enhancing more intimate communion. On this Good Shepherd Easter, it is not exclusively the priests who need to take time for self-examination and self-assessment. It is a challenge for all of us. For several weeks, our bulletin has been inviting and encouraging ALL parishioners to bring to prayer about serving, laying down her/his life. It is a call to an awareness that each one is a needed shepherd. YOUR sheep need you. What say you?
During the month of May, we will provide an opportunity to have your mother or any woman who assumed a motherly role in your life remembered at each Mass. The Liturgy (Mass) is the highest and most perfect form of prayer, in which we unite ourselves with Christ’s unconditional self-sacrificial love. For all the women who have sacrificed themselves as providers, nurturers, and care-givers, there can be no greater gesture of love then to have them memorialized at every Mass’ intention. Envelopes are available in the church vestibule. You may fill out the envelope and drop it in the offertory collection.”