Daily Reflection
May 15th, 2000
Tom Purcell
Accounting Department
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Acts 11:1-18
Psalms 42:2-3; 43:3, 4
John 10:1-10

Yesterday was Mother's Day.  I couldn't help but think of mothers and their children when I reflected on today's gospel reading.

Today's story revisits the truth of Jesus as gatekeeper, the one true way, and His relationship with those He leads.  The sheep respond to the shepherd, not the stranger (thieves and marauders).  They follow the shepherd in and out of the safety of the sheepfold.

Sheep aren't particularly bright animals, so why do they give loyalty to one person rather than another?  Why don't they follow the stranger?  Because they don't recognize the stranger's voice.  And why do they recognize the voice of the shepherd?  I think it is because they are responding to the shepherd's unconditional love.

The shepherd is with them in good times and bad, fair weather and foul, times of peace and times of terror.  The shepherd protects the sheep with his own life against the perils that beset them.  The sheep sense this concern, this deep and unconditional love for their well-being, and they respond with unquestioning faith.

When I was a young boy, my love for and faith in my mother was like the sheep to the shepherd.  She was the life-giver, my solace, the source of all love in my life, the comforter, the healer, even at times the redeemer.  Of course I felt my father's love, but my mother was always the place of first, last and best tranquility.  I knew that she always loved me, no matter what I had done nor how I had trampled on her feelings.  Yet as I grew older, I realized she could not solve all the problems, prevent all the hurts, keep at bay all the wolves of my life.

Jesus reminds us today that He alone can provide the ultimate solace as we face the wolves and thieves and marauders in our lives.  He is the shepherd, and if we walk in His shadow we will be safe.

And so my prayer for today is that I can re-feel my young love for my mother and hers for me, that I can sense the faith of the sheep toward the shepherd, and that I then can lose myself in the unconditional love of Jesus and not be distracted by the temptations to doubt my safety in His care.

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