Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent
Isaiah continues to be the prophet of God’s marvelous mercy as he proclaims, "Here is your God… Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs and leads the ewes with care…"
St. Matthew gives us the words of Jesus fulfilling the prophecy. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who goes in search for the stray and is happier about that one than about the ninety-nine that did not wander away.
And he makes sure no one, not the most stringent Pharisee or none of the rigorist challengers of shepherding Popes would miss the truth that is what God wants!
"It is no part of your heavenly Father’s plan that a single one of these little ones shall ever come to grief."
Neither Isaiah, nor Jesus are trying to tell us an appealing story of a shepherd’s care for sheep. Both are revealing something of the Heart of God for us. God did not create to show his power in the unimaginable Big Bang that gave the astoundingly large universe its explosive start. He was not amusing himself with astronomical fireworks.
Creation came from love, creation was to give us the power to love. It also gave us a freedom that is too often abused. But the God who loved us from eternity comes as the Good Shepherd to seek and save that which has gone astray. He will not allow his love to be defeated. For that reason the Son of God is born as the tiny Son of Mary, and grows up to be the Good Shepherd seeking the stray. He rejoices every time he brings one back to his love.
Perhaps there have been actual shepherds who died defending their sheep from wolves, bears and lions. There is no doubt the Divine Shepherd gave up his life to bring us all into his arms and into eternal glory.
That is the reality of Christmas — God’s Gift of His Son as our Savior and Shepherd. Let us pray God for sinners and rejoice in every redemption!
Fr. Fred Sucher, C.P. is retired and lives in the Passionist community in Chicago. For many years he taught philosophy to Passionist seminarians.