The Good Shepherd

05-01-2020Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

During these weeks that all of us are trying to cooperate as closely as possible with the Directives of “stay at home” and “social distancing”, our daily life can get a little too close and people can get a little too sensitive. Usually behavior that can be let go can sometimes, can become a major irritant. The friction of being together so much and not having our regular life can cause all sorts of problems. We can forget about the larger common good and go back to the regular narcissistic orientated culture that we had lived in and functioned in each day “What is best for me is really best for everyone.”

I do not know how well we would have received the announcement of Peter in the Acts of the Apostles that they (we) had crucified Jesus, the one that God made both Lord and Christ. Because we seem to be a little more sensitive each week as confinement takes its due, hearing criticisms from someone may not go over too well. Certainly the criticism that Peter announced would have shocked us. Bear in mind that the daily life and times of the apostles and disciples was actually harder then we have and they always had to live far much closer to each other. Life was actually lived closer to a subsistence level for most of them. How interesting it is that the folks back then took Peter’s dramatic announcement to heart as meaning something greater and more than themselves. As a result we learn their response was about “what can we do?” rather than “No, not me. It is someone else’s fault.” We know that they know they did not crucify Jesus by their own hands, but their response and concern was to know how they could help make things right. Peter invited them to the waters of baptism. They did come in droves to these waters of living life.

In the letter of Peter, we learn that we should suffer our burdens patiently. We have Jesus as the ultimate example. He certainly has done no wrong; he was without sin and he did not treat those who hurt him meanly or cruelly. Jesus is clearly our model. Even if we lose our way, he will call us back as a shepherd calls his sheep.

The readings this weekend can help us gain some insight or new strength to live these confining days with some positivity, hope and warmth. We are being called to be involved in something that is greater than our own life.  It is not our fault, but we can respond in ways that  show we are involved in the greater life for each one of us. Even if we have slipped a bit, or a lot (!), in recent days, we can still go forward and make things better.

Our Shepherd Jesus calls to us each and every day. In these very days in which we live with faith, dignity and kindness among our own, we are witnessing to His Death and Resurrection. Faith is not theoretical theology or a knowledge of weird things of church history, but is the concrete living out of the message of Jesus, especially in difficult times. The scripture this weekend helps us to reflect on this and in faith live a better life.