The image of a 'good shepherd' came alive for me when I had the privilege of watching a Bolivian family take care of their small flock. It was Christmas vacation at the Language School in Cochabamba, Bolivia and a friend of mine invited me to spend that week at her convent in the Altiplano of La Paz.
It was there that I witnessed on a daily basis just how sacrificial a 'good shepherd' really has to be. No matter the weather or time, it seemed to me that those precious sheep were never left alone . Taking turns, different members of the family kept a constant watch. On one occasion I noticed the poorly clad and barefoot boy bringing those sheep to better grazing on a lower level. And if any of those sheep strayed, a sound rang out that was only recognizable between sheep and shepherd. Amazingly that sheep not only listened, but obeyed immediately.
Of course these good shepherds take care of their flocks because it's their livelihood. They need those sheep for survival. Whereas, Jesus, Our Good and Faithful Shepherd willingly gave his life totally out of pure love. And today, he continues to pour out his individual, special care for each one of us. He longs to guide us and lead us to those life-giving waters. He sees when we need comfort and our wounds need healing. But like that lonely sheep going in the wrong direction, we too at times get confused, straying on a different path that doesn't bring us life to the fullest.
In our world, there are many voices vying for our attention. To listen to, recognize and follow the one that comes from the Lord takes effort, prayer and many times, courage. May we keep our ears attentive and our hearts steadfast in following the call of the One who truly loves us.
-Sister Ann Marie Grasso
Sisters of St. Mary of Namur . 241 Lafayette Avenue . Buffalo, New York 14213 . (716) 884-8221