Today is what the ancient Romans used to call the ides of March, and in Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar” a soothsayer, or fortune-teller, says to Caesar, “Beware the ides of March.” It has come into our language as a sort of adage, although I doubt that most people would be able to identify its source or know its meaning.
In any case, on these ides of March, I come to tell you that on this past weekend, I returned to New Orleans to attend the celebration of the 50th anniversary of ordination of two of our friars. It was the third time I’ve been back to the city since the devastation of hurricane Katrina and the flood that it caused. And again, I was very happy to see so much progress since that first horrible visit just two months after the subsidence of the water. And also, I got to see many old friends of mine who came for the celebration. Most of them I hadn’t seen since I left New Orleans in 2005. In that period, us old folks have gotten older; former teenagers have married and are having children; and former toddlers are now as tall as their parents. What a marvelous opportunity to reflect upon the human condition, the passage of time, the beauty of family life, and the inevitability of death since we were not made for this life, but for the next, and we must pass through the doors of death to get there!
While I was there, I heard of a teenager who wore a sweatshirt made in New Zealand, where the sheep outnumber the people. On the sweatshirt appeared the words: “The Lord is my shepherd.” Then, below that, in smaller print, there was written: “He thinks I’m a sheep!” That is not only delightful, but quite true. Our Lord speaks of himself as the good shepherd, and of us as his sheep. The loving, caring, tender relationship that a GOOD shepherd has with his sheep is a beautiful paradigm of God’s loving care for us. We are led through this life, following this divine leader of ours, and if we don’t deviate from his guidance, we will arrive, sooner or later, at our eternal destination. We have every reason to rejoice that Our Lord IS our good shepherd and that he DOES think of us as his sheep whom he loves dearly and even searches out carefully if one does go astray. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago