2nd Sunday after Easter 19.4.15 Sheep seeking the centre
The Good Shepherd says: My sheep are known to Me. He knows the name of all His people!
We see people everywhere. On the streets, in the shops, sporting venues, people coming and going in all directions. They can look like so many black ants as they move around.
And as far as we are concerned they can amount to about the same importance as we would give to a colony of ants.
We can be very impersonal about ‘persons’. We don’t have time to know them all, even if we had the interest. But the Good Shepherd knows them all – in every detail about each one. Their hopes, fears, desires, every word they have ever spoken, every thought ever had.
And He looks on them as His own. Not all of them are officially His at this stage, as there are many outside the flock of the Church. But all are meant to be His sheep.
As He says in today’s Gospel: there are other sheep which do not presently belong but which He will bring in to the one fold.
We understand this as a re-uniting of all Christian believers in the one Catholic Church; but it also extends to non-Christians. And a good many Catholics who are only lukewarm at present – these are in the fold technically, but not in spirit.
So a lot of people need to move from where they are to where they should be.
The Good Shepherd wants us to gather around Him, to approach Him; even to seek Him out.
Many are seeking Him; many others are trying to get away from Him. We can be centripetal or centrifugal – seeking the centre or seeking to flee the centre.
How can we hide from Him – which is impossible anyway (cf Ps 138)? But why should we want to hide from the One who is the answer, and the only answer?
There are many reasons why people try to avoid the Good Shepherd.
It could be pride: I don’t want to have to answer to any sort of god.
It could be despair: I don’t believe there is any answer to the problems I see.
It could be resentment: why does He let me suffer as much as I do; or other people to suffer?
By the cunning of the devil we can end up preferring the dark to the light, death to life.
So we see with great sadness so many people turning away from the Good Shepherd. He calls them by name, and they prefer to go into the wilderness.
On this subject more than any other there is distortion of understanding and will.
In sin we do not see clearly and do not make wise decisions. And when there is sin all around, and the whole world is infected, it becomes easy not only to make bad decisions but to glory in them.
So now we see atheists boasting of their status and drawing strength from each other. They are still wrong but they feel better for having company around them.
We who believe and who do seek the Good Shepherd can also suffer from some of these centrifugal tendencies.
We can be resentful of God for letting us suffer, for not answering all our prayers.
We can resist His will, preferring our own way. We can doubt Him in times of crisis.
We have to learn to trust Him more. We cannot understand more than He understands. No matter what the present situation it is always going to be better for us to approach Him than to run away.
If we are going to be sheep let us play the part and be dumb - at least in relation to the Shepherd. Don’t argue; just answer His call. We can try to understand it later, but first, Obey!
And we pray for all who are presently strayed: May there be one flock under one Shepherd.