Monday of the Fourth Week of Easte
Growing up as a kid on an Iowa farm, we always hated hearing those dreaded words: “The cows are out!” It meant the cows and calves found a break in a fence or an open gate, and we had to find them all and then get them back in.
Raising livestock can be a way of reflecting on the difference between being “in” or “out.” Notice the implications of being “in” or “out” in our liturgical readings today. St. Peter had to deal with a challenge presented by the early Christians for choosing to mingle and eat with the non-Jews and then for bringing them into the Christian assembly. They were supposed to be “out.” His answer came from his personal vision and prayer experience which convinced him that anyone despite their differences can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel provides another agricultural image of Jesus gathering his beloved into shelter and his personal care. The Good Shepherd is always in search of the wayward sheep. Any shepherd, ancient or modern, knows the truth of St. Augustine’s words: “the forbidden fruit is always the most enticing!” Therefore, the shepherd must continue to call and gather the flock with patience. No matter how far the flock has wandered away, if they listen for their name, the voice of the shepherd will reach them and bring them home.
Reflection: The Word of God can speak to you today. Who is “in” and who is “out” in your relationships, whether close at hand or at a distance? Who are the people who challenge you to change? Likewise, who are the people waiting and needing to know the compassionate love of the Good Shepherd passing through you?
Reflection by Fr. Daniel Petsche, OSB