By Fr. Mike Boutin
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. (from John 10:27-30)
A beautiful musical and artistic meditation on "Shepherd Me, O God" by Marty Haugen, thanks to You Tube.
What kind of sheep are you? Do you stay put, play inside the pen, obey the rules? When you hear your name, do you come running, confident that the Shepherd will feed you?
I wish I could be a sheep like that, but I'm too curious. I want to know what the world is like outside the pen. I wait until the Shepherd isn't looking, then I jump the fence. . . or sneak underneath. . . "It will only be for a little while," I convince myself.
The world is my oyster, so I find a new path, and follow it. "I don't understand what the big deal is. The path is clearly marked. I can do this on my own. Why do I need the Shepherd? He needs to take care of all those other sheep, the ones who can't fend for themselves. But I'm smarter and faster than all of them. I can take care of myself. And when I'm tired of exploring, I can just turn around and come home."
But then it gets dark. And I start to hear strange noises. . . ferocious, scary noises, like wolves. The path becomes difficult to follow and I can't see. . .
Soon, night falls. I'm afraid, and far from home. I can almost hear the wolves licking their lips: "Lambchops for supper, tonight...."
The road must have curved off, but instead, I fall into the ditch, into a big pile of mud. "Not a problem," I think to myself. "I can get myself out of this ditch, out of this mess. I don't need any Shepherd taking care of me."
And after a goodly while of working at it, I do finally get myself out of the ditch and back on the road. "Maybe I should try to find my way home," I think out loud. "Maybe a nice warm pen would be a good idea at night at least. It would be good to see the Shepherd and to know I'm safe again." So I turn and start for home.
And just as I turn into the deep darkness of the night, I see the eyes peering at me in the darkness. "I'm done," I think to myself. "The wolves smelled my fear and have come looking for dinner." Except the eyes seemed rather tall for a wolf. . . "Just my luck: a bear with a hankering for lamb!"
And then I heard the voice: "Come to me, you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will give you rest."
It was the Shepherd! He came to find me! He left the other sheep behind, in the safety of the pen, walked out into the dark and cold, just to find me!
He told me He loved me, as if there were no other sheep in the world! He told me He would never let me stray, and if I did stray, He told me He would go to the ends of the world to find me!
The Lord is my Shepherd, and I shall not fear....
Now pray. . .
Father Mike Boutin is the co-pastor of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Walpole, MA, and travels widely, leading pilgrimages throughout the world to various Catholic religious sites. He is a frequent speaker on liturgy, music, spirituality, and pastoral ministry.