Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Like a Shepherd

 "Like a shepherd he feeds his flock..." Isaiah 40:11
Didn't want to get up this morning. Too many problems and challenges to face today! A meeting with a tax lawyer, a store with an ugly sign, stocks for Christmas, a POS that needs a permit, piles of papers on my desk that needs to be worked on, AND mouth sores!!!
In verse 3 of Isaiah 40, I read, "In the wilderness, in the desert, prepare a way for the Lord." I'm in a wilderness right now, a morass of difficulties and challenges. And I need to make a way for the Lord to come in. If I just keep thrashing around, and even hacking at the problems, it won't go away. What I need is to create a space for the Lord.

 "Like a shepherd, he feeds his flock...and leads his ewes with care." (Isaiah 40:11) Is a lamb filled with anxiety when it is with its shepherd? Is a sheep afraid when it goes through the valley of death with the shepherd by its side? No. The shepherd brings his sheep where it needs to go through. To better, newer, lusher pastures. We need to go through the valley. The difficulties. Although the valley is necessary to pass through, it is temporary. This too shall pass. We need to focus on the shepherd, not the dark valley.

 From last year's homily of Pope Francis on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which we celebrated yesterday:
"The Gospel of St Luke presents us with Mary, a girl from Nazareth, a small town in Galilee, in the outskirts of the Roman Empire and on the outskirts of Israel as well. A village. Yet the Lord’s gaze rested on her, on this little girl from that distant village, on the one he had chosen to be the mother of his Son. In view of this motherhood, Mary was preserved from original sin, from that fracture in communion with God, with others and with creation, which deeply wounds every human being. But this fracture was healed in advance in the Mother of the One who came to free us from the slavery of sin. The Immaculata was written in God’s design; she is the fruit of God’s love that saves the world.

The mystery of this girl from Nazareth, who is in the heart of God, is not estranged from us. She is not there and we over here. No, we are connected. Indeed, God rests his loving gaze on every man and every woman! By name and surname. His gaze of love is on every one of us. The Apostle Paul states that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph 1:4). We too, from all time, were chosen by God to live a holy life, free of sin. It is a plan of love that God renews every time we come to him, especially through the Sacraments.

 On this Solemnity, then, by contemplating our beautiful Immaculate Mother, let us also recognize our truest destiny, our deepest vocation: to be loved, to be transformed by love, to be transformed by the beauty of God."
Yes, Lord, transform me in love, the way You chose and transformed Mary. She was a simple, humble woman who trusted in You. May I be simple and humble in a world that does not treasure these qualities! May I say like Mary, "May it be done to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38)

 "He is patient with you..." 2 Peter 3:9
God is patient. He is long-suffering, not wanting anyone, not any one, to perish. I know God is patient, because if I were God, a particular BIR man who is harassing us because we do not want to give him a bribe, will be punished. God is patient because if I were God, those ISIS fighters cutting heads off would be destroyed by a pillar of fire. If I were God, those politicians stealing money meant for rehabilitation of areas devastated by natural calamities would be....you get the idea.

But God...He waits...and waits...and waits. He is not eager to punish those who reject Him, those who say He does not exist. There is an old Hebrew story about Abraham. One night, he invited an old man into his tent. He was very kind and generous, washing his feet, and inviting him to dine. But the man did not say a prayer before eating, so Abraham asked him, "Aren't you going to thank God for your food?"
When the man replied, "I worship fire only and reverence no other god," Abraham got so indignant that he forced the man out of his tent. God then called out to Abraham, "What did you do?" Abraham, in all righteousness, answered, "I threw him out because he does not worship You!"
God chided him, "I have suffered him these eighty years although he dishonors me. Could you not endure him one night?"
Thank you Lord, for being long-suffering with me! I do not deserve it, but You love me enough to wait...and wait...and wait! You will finish the work You started in me! (Phil.1:6)

"Without cost you have received, without cost you are to give." Matthew 10:8
We are blessed to bless others, and one of the best examples for this is the Saint whose feast day was last December 6- Saint Nicholas of Myra. He had a reputation for helping others, and leaving gifts secretly. And so was born the legend of Santa Claus, from the Saint's Dutch name Sinter Klaus.
He grew up in a wealthy family, but his parents died when he was young. Thereafter he was brought up by his uncle, the Bishop of Patara, who eventually ordained him priest.

Many legends grew around Saint Nicholas and there are many miracles attributed to him, including resurrecting people from the dead and multiplying wheat.
All of us are blessed and we all have opportunities to bless others. We shouldn't wait for when we have more time, more money, a bigger house or the gift of miracles. All we need is a loving heart and trust in a big God who will provide all we need!


3 comments:

  1. Your work is so personal and reflective. I especially love the image of Jesus as the shepherd. Thank you for sharing at Unforced Rhythms.

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  2. I need to make space for Him. As always, your words and images not only encourage me, but give me a peace and a hope! Shalom sweet friend!

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  3. I'm sorry to hear you are going through such struggles. Yet still you manage to bring encouragement to others, as well as to yourself. And even give a history lesson on Santa Claus. You are an amazing woman of God. May he bless you in all ways. Hugs, Teresa

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I am so glad you dropped by! You are a blessing!
:^) Patsy