Shepherding the Heart
Last Sunday’s Gospel has the moving line, ‘Jesus took pity on the [crowd] because they were like sheep without a shepherd and he set himself to teach them at some length’. Well, I know I am often lost and at any time some part of my life needs shepherding. But the interesting part of the Gospel quote is that Jesus didn’t offer to console the people in need, rather he sought to teach them at length. When Jesus comes to shepherd our hearts it is not to console us in our mess but to teach us a way to deal positively with our situation.
One of the things I have been taught by life (and I take that to be Jesus) is: ‘The problem is rarely the Problem.’ Someone else’s habits that annoy me, words that depress me, situations that frustrate me are rarely the real issues that I need to face. I have to stop and ask myself, what is really upsetting me here? The answer I get is often something quite different from what caused the distress. I might be getting angry because I am tired. I might be upset at someone’s words because my mother has treated me badly. There can be all sorts of different reasons that set my heart up to react badly in quite different situations.
When we finally uncover some of these reasons, we have only just begun to be taught. This is when we need to pray, asking Jesus to shepherd us…and then be prepared for what life will offer us. Maybe I am getting tired because I don’t get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep is a discipline. Maybe I am depressed because a parent treated me badly so I have to discover ways to nurture myself. Maybe
(put your own issue in here). Well maybe I need to (put your own creative solution in here). When we allow Jesus to shepherd our hearts, be prepared to be taken in some surprising directions.
Loving God, let me be open to the shepherding that Jesus is offering me. Give me the courage to reflect on what upsets me and discover what are the real causes of my problems. Then give me the wisdom to act creatively I ask this in Jesus’ name confident that you will hear me.
Sr Kym Harris osb