How quickly time flies – as it is already the 4th Sunday of Easter – I don’t remember Lent going by this fast!
So two stories today.
The first is about a pop quiz given to a class of nursing students in their first year of training.
Most of the students did well on the quiz until they came to the last question – which they all left blank, with a few unsuccessful guesses. . .
The last questions was:
“What is the name of the person who cleans your dorm?”
The students all thought the question was a joke. But when they got their quizzes back – they all had it marked wrong.
They all protested but the professor said, “her name is Jill.”
And went on to say, “you will meet many people in your careers. All of them are significant. They deserve your attention and your care and most especially your respect. Even if all you can do is smile and wish them a good day – do it!”
The students all remembered the lesson – and all spoke to Jill the next time they saw her.
To be a disciple of Jesus Christ demands that we respond to every person the same way the Good Shepherd responds.
Every person deserves our attention and our care and most especially our respect – because each person possesses the sacred dignity of being created in the image and likeness of God. Every person is a unique reflection of God.
This is why the charity of a Christian must reach beyond his or her own family and friends – beyond the parish community – and even beyond the needs of one’s own country.
As Christians, we have to be concerned about those who are hurt, starving, suffering, or dying throughout the world.
Our charity cannot be limited by anything including the parameters of our faith community.
Mother Theresa, for example, reached out to the poor of Calcutta. Most of these people were Hindi — not Christian. We help others because WE are Catholic – not because they are Catholic – everyone is created in the image and likeness of God. . .
Maybe someone is waiting to hear our words and see our actions that include them into the Lord’s flock.
It’s so easy to say that we need to reach out to others – but often times difficult to do.
It seems like we’re always on the run – totally oblivious to a neighbor who is rather down.
Or as parents who might be so caught up in the hectic schedule of our children with gymnastics, dance, school, scouts, sports – that we might not notice that our children have needs far greater than all the activities we take them to.
It’s often the case that others tend to need our support and love the most – when we are at our busiest.
Following the Good Shepherd requires our never being too busy to be aware of and to respond to those around us who need our love and attention.
The second story is about Maria, a little 9 year old blind girl, who lived with her father in a large New York City apartment building.
Maria’s father usually did not leave her alone – but he had to run our and pick up a few things - so left her watching – listening actually –
to a television program.
He spent more time out than he planned and when he rounded the corner to their building – the street was full of fire trucks and hoses, and fire personnel.
He looked up and to his horror – it was his section of the building that was ablaze.
And there, on the ledge outside the window of his apartment – was a terrified Maria – huddled into a ball.
The fire fighters could not maneuver the truck in such a way to reach the girl, so they had set up a net and told her to jump. She was frozen in fear.
Then her father took a bull horn and called to her. “Maria,” he said, “Daddy’s here. I’ll take care of you. You just need to jump when I tell you to. Are you ready?”
Maria stood up and said, “I’m ready.” Then he shouted – “Okay, jump on three. One. Two. Three.” – and she jumped safely into the net. She was so completely relaxed that she did not even strain a muscle from the three story fall. All because she trusted the voice that she knew loved her.
There is a voice calling us to jump – to take a risk.
But sometimes the noise of our lives is so loud, that we don’t hear the voice. But the voice is still there – and we need to hear it.
It is the voice of the Good Shepherd – the voice of Jesus speaking to us in the quiet of our hearts, in the love of our family and friends, in the cries of the needy calling out to us.
The voice of the Good Shepherd calls us out to us calmly and lovingly.
He tells us to jump from our places of comfort – to take a leap of faith. He tells us to trust in him because he is taking care of us.
The Good Shepherd is the risen Lord. He is with us. He will never leave us alone. Today we ask the Lord to allow us to slow down and hear his voice. And to respond to his call with open hearts.
Moments in time...