Comfort; give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Those are the words of the prophet Isaiah. As we go more deeply into the beautiful time of Advent and await the coming of the Savior, he presents himself in the words of scripture which become also the words of our liturgy—our official prayer—as the good shepherd: gentle, caring, tender, loving, provident.
Isaiah goes on: like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care. Everyone who has an experience with shepherds and sheep knows that the newborn lambs cannot walk far, and often the shepherd must pick them up like children and carry them. And that the ewes still heavy with young must be cared for lest too much walking be demanded of them and they miscarry their young. Thus, a gentle, loving, tender relationship springs up between shepherd and sheep. God uses this soft and intimate relationship to express his concern, love, and tenderness toward us. And Jesus calls himself our “good shepherd.” If even one of us strays, he would leave the entire flock in the care of an assistant or a sheepdog to come search for the stray. Many of the fathers and doctors of the Church have used this idea to assert that Jesus would gladly have undergone the suffering of the cross if only to save ONE human being. He loves us that much. Let us do our best to use this love of God for us as a motivation to love him in return, and to make of our entire spiritual life a reciprocity of caring and of love. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.