As Christians, we’re called to care deeply for one another. We really can’t begin to do the work of Disciples of Christ, of true Christians unless we care so deeply for everyone around us. Life and the circumstances of life can often leave us feeling jaded, hurt, cynical, unloved ourselves and we can (most if not all of us) find ourselves retreating or moving into defense mode. It really doesn’t take too much for us to just simply want to remain with those around us who are like minded and find ourselves without any desire to spend time with others for whom we don’t share the same values or think in the same way. One of the profound and radically different teachings of Christ was not to focus our attention merely on those around us who are of like-mind but to reach out to others confident that our faith as foundation gives us the strength and courage to do this.
Few if any of us want to be rejected and so we “play it safe” so as not to offend others. Nobody benefits from our playing it safe, because this also means that by playing it safe, we shrink, we play it small in the world. The alternative is not to be so bold that we offend others, or that we ride a moral “high-horse”. Instead, the alternative is that we stand for something unbelievably positive, joyful, optimistic and wonderful in this world. Something that is joyfully selfless rather than empty and selfish. That something is to care for others no matter what they’ve done or how they’ve treated us or how they’ve acted in the world; no matter how hostile, angry or hurtful they have been – we treat each other with love, care and concern no matter what! Why, because the Lord our God has treated us this way and we have been given grace beyond grace of eternal life, a life that is ultimately without concern if we can wrap our minds around it. Jesus has told us “everything is going to be alright”.
This is the platform from which the Christian boldly steps out for others. Jesus is not only forming sheep, importantly He forms shepherds. The men I work with as Director of Vocations, Jesus forms as “Shepherds after His Own Sacred Heart”. But our Lord Jesus is calling all of us as Disciples to be shepherds and we are the “linchpin” to His mission; we go for the lost because the Good Shepherd is taking care of the rest of us, calling all of us to deeper and deeper conversion. This is why we don’t seek to merely live our faith and discipleship out inside the walls of our parish church. We worship there, we’re nourished there – but then we go out and invite others in.
Today, let us all consider what we have done and what we are doing to go out and joyfully, passionately and lovingly bring the lost sheep back to the Lord, or to encounter Him for the first time, and to consider the ways we might do that. May God bless you.