Saturday, March 7, 2009
The Good Shepherd Breaks Their Legs
I had no idea that the average Catholic didn't know the story behind the pictures of Jesus carrying the lamb on His shoulders. My friend Robyn thought it was Jesus' way of carrying us when we couldn't make it up the hill, or over the river by ourselves. I stared at her. I thought for a minute about NOT explaining the Good Shepherd's role in the discipline of His sheep, but then said to myself I would be doing her a grave disservice not to explain it. So, here you go - this is for all those sweet and wonderful Catholics like Robyn who made it to Mass but skipped out on Sunday School.
For centuries shepherds have been herding sheep. Face it, no one likes to carry a load of weight around their shoulders for too long, and so it may seem that the Good Shepherd is picking up a little lamb and hoisting it over His shoulders to help it make it over to the greener pasture, perhaps the little baa-baa is just tired or fatigued and simply needs that extra gentle touch....not the way it works. I pick Faith up sometimes and carry her 27 pound body around, but not for long. A shepherd's role in the life of his sheep is not only to guard them, prod them, and get them onto the right path and in the right direction. Occasionally there is a need for discipline as well. When an animal that is suppose to be doing what it is suppose to be doing is told over and over again, shown, lovingly shown, forcibly shown, and it still refuses to do what it is suppose to do, the shepherd has two choices: he can either kill the little guy or break its leg to render it unable to continue disobeying him.
Now, almost IMMEDIATELY after the leg is broken the sheep gets the message that the shepherd (or in Jesus' case capital S with Shepherd)is serious about the direction or the commandment given. It doesn't take too long for the waywardness to subside and the dependency upon the Shepherd to take place. Then, and only then, does the Good Shepherd pick up the broken lamb and place it over His shoulders to carry it for a matter of a long time and an enduring lesson, which over a course of weeks, and usually close intimate conversation and discussion from His mouth to the lamb's ears, will the lamb be strong enough to walk on its own again. Breaking the animal's leg is better than the alternative. Guess how many actual shepherds take the time to do that? They feast on mutton rather than make the effort when they have too many other obedient sheep walking correctly.
No...no thank you...I don't want to be that little fluffy sheep on Jesus' shoulders. I'm content to being one of the first sheep in line - keeping pace, doing exactly what I'm suppose to be doing. Every once in a while I may glance back to be sure I'm not missing the signal, after all I know how GOOD the Good Shepherd is! Walk with Him long enough and He knows that I know that He knows I'm going to do what I'm told. When I pray I pray with rocks in my hand and one thing I try to do often is remember to praise my Jesus. The same Bible that shares the stories of many shepherds also tells me that the rocks will call out His name if I forget. I don't ever want to hear my rocks talking! I don't mind if they praise WITH me, but I don't ever want them to praise without me.
I guess what I'm saying is - - if you have been guided, told, shown, and commanded to do something by Jesus; do yourself a favor and keep your legs healthy...arms too I guess, get in line! He's never going to tell you to do something you aren't suppose to be doing, just maybe something you weren't planning on doing. I know that feeling. Been there still doing it. No, no, I'm not complaining....just doing it, and looking back to be sure I'm still with the pack! Baaaa-baaaa-baaaa