Did you hear that France just bought the “Rock of Gibraltar?” They named it “de Gaul Stone.”
In today’s gospel it says that when Jesus saw the vast crowd, he was “moved withpity.” In those days people thought that the intestines were the seat of emotions. The phrase, “moved withpity”meant, “to feel the bowels yearn.” Jesus was feeling the emotion of compassion from very deep within, as he looked upon the people. It is similar to the feeling of parents who see their child in pain.
1) The gospel notes that the people were like sheep without a shepherd. Have any of you ever seen a shepherd? Would any of you like to be a shepherd?
A shepherd is someone who guides and protects his sheep. He guides them so they don’t go wandering off the path. He protects them from wolves or anything else that could harm the sheep.
What comes to mind is the responsibility of parents to shepherd their children. Yes, like shepherds, parents guide their children so they don’t go wandering off the path. Parents protect their children from anything that could harm them.
But unlike the image of a simple shepherd in a countryside, today’s parent is more like a haz-mat person leading children through a minefield!
Yesterday I went for my Virtus training update. We talked about parents installing filtering devices on computers, cell phones, tablets, iPods, etc. There is a need to regularly monitor children’s and young people’s Internet activities. Social networking sites and photo-posting sites can present a danger. Movies, TV and music will often present sin as attractive. Yes, there is a minefield out there.
More than just protection from immediate external dangers, parents are challenged to be counter-cultural and teach values that much of society doesn’t get. The value of telling the truth, respecting all human life, threating our body and the bodies of others with chastity, protecting the planet, valuing marriage… It is tough to shepherd children today. I support and cheer on all parents in this very important responsibility.
2) I think we can stretch the concept of shepherding to include shepherding ourselves. In fact how can we shepherd others unless we first shepherd ourselves? How do we keep ourselves on the right path and avoid danger? I suggest the first place to start is by managing our thoughts.
If we value the health of our body, we are careful about what we eat. If we value the health of our soul, we are careful about what thoughts we think.
Someone said that the trouble with our country is that 98 percent of households have TV and only 91 percent have indoor plumbing. There is too much bad stuff coming in and not enough bad stuff going out.
Marcus Aurelius said, “The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.” That means we limit the amount of negative news we read or watch.
That means we look for the good in others and in ourselves. That means we don’t gossip about the faults of others. That means we speak words of encouragement to others and to ourselves. That means we read and reflect on the words of Sacred Scripture.
To shepherd ourselves means to guide our thoughts, and protect our minds from junk. To shepherd ourselves means to fill our eyes, ears, minds and hearts with beauty, truth and goodness. To shepherd ourselves means to care for our soul.
As the Peanuts cartoon says, “Worry won’t stop the bad stuff from happening. It just stops you from enjoying the good.”
3) A final thought today…
I live and work at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre. I think our retreat center could use a sentence from today’s gospel as our slogan. Jesus said, “Come away by yourselvesto a deserted place and rest a while.” Our retreat center is not exactly deserted, but it is quiet, nestled at the bottom of Mt. Wilson, with deer and other wild life often visiting us. It is a place to “rest awhile.” If you haven’t made a retreat at our place yet, please plan on doing so.
When a lake is stirred up into waves by the wind, it is not possible to see any reflection. But when the winds are calm it is easy to see your reflection in the still water. The winds of busyness make it difficult for us to see where we are going. But retreating to a quiet place, we can stop and see clearly the truth of how to live and what to do.
Our psalm response today was Psalm 23, the “ Good Shepherd” psalm. In it are the lines, “In verdant pastures he gives me repose. Beside restful waters he leads me.” It is an image of peace and tranquility. Where can we go, and how do we find that place of peace? Can we help each other find that place of peace?
Today is the Lord’s Day. Come away by yourselves to a quiet place and rest a while. You deserve it. And God will smile.