Last Sunday after Mass I was talking with a young family. One of the children said to me, “Did you know my daddy can lift me up on his shoulders?” As if on cue, her dad did just that. Then, with a big smile, the child said, “He is so strong he can even lift a house.” To which I replied, “I know, I saw him do it once!” Her eyes got real big.
Every child feels safe in their parent’s arms. Here they find love, care, and security.
The early Christians knew this well. They felt the same sentiments for Jesus that a child feels for their parents. One of the first images they used was of the Good Shepherd: A statue of a noble young man carrying a lamb on his shoulders. It fits perfectly with what the first Christians—indeed what every Christian—finds in Christ: love, care, security. It is Christ the Good Shepherd who picks us up into his arms and leads away from what can endanger us, placing us in pastures where we can find the true fountains of peace and happiness that we all yearn for.
How many Christians have had this experience? How many have found in Jesus a Good Shepherd who leads them away from wolves and barren pastures? But what is the secret of being numbered among the sheep of Christ’s flock? It is humility.
To belong to Christ we need to be humble. This is hard. We don’t like to be sheep.
We are men and women of the third millennium, who pride ourselves on our strength and independence—not on being warm, fuzzy, defenseless creatures, nibbling on grass and having someone tell us where to go.
But for Jesus to be our Shepherd we have to humbly recognize we are in some ways his sheep. It means we have to allow ourselves to be guided by him. It means we have to accept God’s authority over our life. It means we have to humbly bow our heads and accept that it belongs to Christ, through the teaching of the Church, to tell us what is good for us. Only in this way can we experience the freedom and joy of being lifted on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd.
Let us ask God for the humility necessary to belong to Christ’s flock, so that he can take you on his shoulders and lead you to the verdant pastures of true peace and happiness.