From a Creighton Student's Perspective
November 20, 2011
4th Year Dental Student
Lately, God has been revealing to me something important about myself… I am very weak. The readings for this Sunday have helped me understand this better and are inviting each of us to redefine who we are in relation to our God.
In the first reading, God is the shepherd who tends his flock – seeking out, bringing back, and healing his scattered sheep (Ez 34:16). However, this is not the entirety of who he is as Shepherd, for the reading goes on to say, “but the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly.” At first, this confused me - wouldn’t a shepherd want strong sheep in his fold? There must be something more. It seems that God, our shepherd, is not chastising health, success, or the quality of strength; rather, he is comparing those who are in need of him to those who have no need of him. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus reveals this to the hardened hearts of the Pharisees and Scribes more explicitly: "Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” (Lk 10:31-32)
This first reading in particular forces me to ask “Who am I? Am I willing to admit that I am lost, hurt, and broken? Or would I rather suppress such realities and claim strength and self-righteousness?” In a world that is so obsessed with independence and personal success, weakness is not the self-descriptor of choice; yet, it’s the quality the Lord wishes us to embrace and profess. This is the utter beauty of our God; what may seem like a blatant contradiction actually shakes our very foundations and begs us to redefine who we are in this world…we are broken and we are in need of a Savior. This is why St. Paul can say “when I am weak, I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10)
Through the wisdom of the Church, this first reading is united to a challenging Gospel reading to convert our hearts further. In the Gospel we are shown Jesus as a just shepherd separating the sheep from the goats, those who willingly served the weakest of society and those who were more concerned with themselves. Here, we see the divine shepherd revealing his heart for the marginalized, the broken, and those who have been forgotten by our world. He praises his sheep who have poured out their own hearts for the weakest among them, for they have the same heart as their shepherd. In the end, serving the weakest serves Jesus and he joyfully opens the Kingdom of Heaven to his own. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.” (Jn 10:27-28) Whether it is confessing our own weakness or bringing a Savior’s heart of mercy to the weakest, what glory embracing weakness can bring!
As I said in the beginning of this reflection, the Lord is revealing to me that I am very weak. I am seeing more and more with each passing day just how much I need him. Let us not be afraid to address our brokenness with our God, let us not be afraid to call out to him in great need. Whatever our weakness may be – loneliness, laziness, sexual impurity, pride, inability to pray, jealousy, physical ailments, anger, control – whether it is sin or the effects of our fallen world, Jesus wants us to entrust our brokenness to him. As my parish priest likes to remind me, “Jesus loves playing the role of Savior.” He wants to be our Savior and deliver us from our sin, he wants to be the Divine Physician and heal our pain, he wants to be our Good Shepherd and carry us home to Heaven. What makes the difference? Whether or not we confess we are weak and in need of him- only then can he be our Savior.
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