a running shepherd

Above: Christ as the Good Shepherd
is found as a fresco in the Crypts of Lucina,
ceiling of the Cubiculum of the Good Shepherd,
catacomb of Callixtus in Rome (mid-third century).

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.’      Matthew 18:12-14

Since the moment sin entered the world humans have been running. We have been running away from God. But we forget that God is also running. God is running after us.

Our running tires us. We are exhausted. But we keep running. We naively think that we can find what we seek apart from God.

Our escape is futile since God is prepared to chase us, down to earth, into our human existence, even to the human realities of suffering and death.

In Jesus God becomes one of us. God joins us in the place where all our running invariably and inevitably leads us to isolation. We run in an effort to find life and intimacy, and instead we feel more alone than ever before.

Linking this running with the image of the Good Shepherd from today’s gospel I think of Steve my uncle, the farmer.

During lambing Steve would notice a ewe in trouble and he would run to catch the ewe.  The ewe did not want to be caught and would run to escape. She couldn’t imagine that Steve was going to help her.  As a kid, uselessly standing on the sideline I was just wishing the stupid ewe would stop and let Steve help.  Her life would be so much easier if she just relaxed!

The link between the shepherd and the sheep is painfully obvious to me now, for I, far too often, am like the stupid sheep. I run from what is best for me. I run to escape from the one who is waiting to overwhelm me with life, with love and with happiness.

Why are we humans so slow to realise that our health and happiness is found only when we stop and allow Jesus the good shepherd to  catch us?

Jesus, the good shepherd, will feed us and befriend us. He will carry us through the dark valleys of life, to the house of the Lord where we are invited to dwell all our days.

An Invitation:

  • Take time today to catch yourself rushing and running. This may feel like busyness, but running can also be apathy and avoidance.
  • Ask Jesus to reveal to you any way in which you might be running from Him. Don’t waste time feeling guilty when you become aware of something, just relax, be still and notice Jesus gazing at you with love.
12 Responses to "a running shepherd"
  1. God is always with us – always ready to welcome us back when we stray. A loving God who is our best friend and hope even when life is difficult. We must trust in Him.

  2. Yes the running is particularly obvious at this time of the year.
    After reading this reflection I become aware of myself running physically and mentally.
    I was awake during the night because the busyness of life at present and all the things that need to be done are worrying me.
    The quietness of the night gave me some lovely time with the lord but even then all of those busy thoughts keep butting in and mentally I was running again.
    I am looking forward to a newfound awareness about my running.

  3. The rustic beauty of the mesmerizing picture of the Shepherd and his Sheep is deeply moving. It depicts for me the togetherness of the Divine Spirit of Love born within each one of us and our eternal connection to our Creator God. +

  4. Wow a timely reminder of all the things I am running from.
    The things I fear addressing that are always stealing my peace, that niggle in the back of my mind.
    The very things I should be running to God with.
    Help me Lord, encourage me to lay them at your feet, then do what I need to do.

  5. John, I love your relationship with your uncle and acknowledging it to this lovely gospel. Its really thought provoking and will help me be more aware of looking at things more broadly in positive spiritual growing way.

  6. Thanks for these insightful and challenging words… If only we knew what direction God was so we could run towards and not away ..

  7. Thank for a profound imagery of a lived experience that also translated to the reality of our spiritual journey. A reminder that in our daily living of our reality God speaks and sending messages when we noticing and in awe take time to reflect on the hidden ways of encountering with Jesus.

  8. Sometimes you can momentarily not think of God when you are feeling restless or anxious about something. But when I think to pray to God or go to Mass my worries seem to lessen. God gives me my strength. He helps me follow a better path.

  9. The good shepherd image was chosen by Pope Francis for the Year of Mercy. It resonates deeply. I’m sure this powerful picture was not lost on those in the hiding in the catacombs. The image can move us into our reality to become a turning point of faith. When the shepherd takes the lost sheep onto his shoulders and carries it home, is overwhelming.

  10. Yes Jesus is my shadow let’s relax into that thought. ” I have nothing to fear.” ❤️His unconditional love sustains me though I walk in the dark valley. He fills me with green postures and running streams and gives me INNER Peace. Amen

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