Commentary on the Gospel of

Kyle Lierk - Creighton University's Campus Ministry

I have written one of these online reflections before which integrated the childhood game “hide-n-seek.”  Today’s readings have me reminiscing about another one we used to play, primarily in school, called “follow the leader.”  Beyond teaching us the helpful social constructs of hierarchy and obedience, I have to believe it was also about exposing us to the important life lesson that to be a good leader you must also be a good follower, and that the two roles only work when in deep relationship with each other.  Today’s readings have much to say about following and what, or who(!), it is that we are being invited to follow.  

My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;

I know them, and they follow me.  (JN 10:27)

In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis implores church leaders to pastor their flocks in such a way that they have the “smell of the sheep” wafting from their garments.  What is this about?  It’s about radical accompaniment!  Like Jesus, pastors (or anyone looking to live as Jesus did) must be in deep relationship with their flock in such a way that they rub off on each other.  People are drawn to follow those who lead them to sources of life and safety.  Always the student of human behavior, perhaps this was why Jesus used that palpable and relatable image of the “good shepherd” when referring to himself.  Sheep know and trust their shepherd and shepherds know and love their sheep.

I heard a beautiful story recently told by famous long-distance, open-water swimmer Lynne Cox.  She described a typical morning workout off the coast of California in the dark hours of morning when she was still in high school.  She could sense a massive, ominous creature below her in the water...and it was following her.  Understandably concerned, Cox headed back to the safety of the pier only to be told by onlookers there that the sea creature following her was a lost, baby gray whale frantically searching for its mother.  Over the course of the next several hours, she remained in the water in order to give that nascent whale someone to follow until it could be reunited with its mother.  Gratefully, mother eventually returned.  Cox described in beautiful detail how mama approached her, remained for a bit of time as if expressing her gratitude and then swam off, baby in tow to rejoin their traveling pod.  “Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.”  When disoriented, that baby whale latched on to someone it felt would keep it safe and lead it to life.  And that is exactly what Lynne Cox did!

Sometimes we too can feel disoriented, turned around and without our berrings.  We lose sight of our true home.  The resulting behaviors that emerge from our confusion might look similar to those St. Paul listed to the Galatians in today’s first reading:  immorality...jealousy...acts of selfishness…  Fortunately, God sends us our own version of Lynne Cox who will lead us back to the safety and life of God’s presence--Jesus.

My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;

I know them, and they follow me.  (JN 10:27)

We look to Jesus and we see one exuding “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”  (Gal 5:22-23)  If we desire to have the same in our lives, we must rub shoulders with the shepherd and follow that leader.

Comments

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on 14/10/20

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