What if you are that stray lamb? A reflection for Advent.

If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?  ~ Mt 18:12

What if you are that stray lamb? Perhaps you have gradually drifted off from the flock of your friends, family and faith community a few paces at a time, not noticing how far away you’ve gotten. Or, in keeping with an age that worships individualism and autonomy, you may have intentionally and stubbornly set out on your own, claiming your right to determine the course of your life. However it happens, at some point, you will realize that you have no idea where you are, and that there are a lot of unfriendly beasts out there in the world.

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How can you find your way back? The short answer is: you cannot. The longer answer is: you cannot, and you need not.  Instead of collapsing in despair or yielding to panic, you need only stop and collect yourself, and call out to the Shepherd who loves you and knows your markings. In the midst of the confusion and isolation we experience during those times in our lives when we lose our way, it can be hard to wait patiently for the God whom American poet John Berryman (using the Hebrew term) calls the “Adonai of rescue.”

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What if God doesn’t notice we’re gone? What if God doesn’t come when we cry out? What if God has forgotten us? If we stop, call to him, and await his coming instead of plowing forward on a misbegotten path, we will hear the voice of Jesus say, as the beautiful hymn has it, “Come unto me and rest; lay down thy weary head, lay down thy head upon my breast.” 

RELATED: Read all of our Advent reflections for 2016

Lord God, Steadfast shepherd of your flock, Grant that, when I am lost and alone, I may wait with patient trust  for you to find me. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

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Bruce Snowden
1 year ago
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” The truth is I seem to “always want,” and worse, often not knowing where I am going! Thomas Merton said a prayer in which he told Jesus, “I have no idea where I’m going,” so I guess I’m in pretty good company Truly it seems in the pasture of my life ninetynine out of one hundred sheep get lost and only one remains in the pasture, one white sheep, multi-spotted with black marking, Doberman-like. I’ve noticed over time the black markings seem fewer, which I understand to mean that, my one bonding desire, the desire to trust God totally is paying off, getting better, but still has the usual steep climb ahead. The black markings are my sinfulness, understanding as I do that, lack of trust in God fuels sinfulness lack of trust un-hallows God’s Name, interferes with the Coming of the Kingdom, nullifying the doing of God’s Will. At that rate, assuming I mercifully escape the eternal oblivion of everlasting death from which there is no Resurrection, I call that Hell, Purgatory’s brief encounter remains, where the unfinished Sacramental and Magesterial Church ministries in life of loving unconditionally as God loves, continue, finding completion. I think Purgatory is for all a brief but intense wrapped-around experience of getting gifted with total trust in God, as totally as God trusts in Himself. A pretty good experience! Stray Thoughts? These are my ever straying thoughts, now shared. My Advent mission is to trust in God as totally as God trusts in Himself. Hopefully some more of those black markings spoken of earlier will vanish. May it be at all times that, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” the Light showing the way! I would like to offer that as a Christmas Gift to Baby Jesus and to His Mom Mary, and His Earthly Dad, Joseph, my Confirmation Patron.

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