Loving your Work – The Good Shepherd Who Loves His Job

Excerpt from Take Time For Him: Some More

by Angela M Jendro

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4th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Read the Gospel of John 10:11-18

Meditation Reflection:

Upon meeting someone new, two questions commonly start the conversation: learning the person’s name followed by asking what they do.  Why?  Since our work occupies most of our day it reveals something of our values, our unique personality and talents, and it shapes us too over time. 

I’m a wife, mom, teacher, and writer.  This reflects my value for family and my love of learning and the development of persons.   I also have a knack for explaining things and a zany side that works well with kids.  My roles have also shaped me.  After teaching for so many years, I catch myself conversing in a Socratic way in every-day conversation.  Before sharing something, I ask if the person happens to know the answer.  As they talk, I ask more questions.  By the end, I might recommend a book or article to read.  At the grocery checkout or fast food restaurant, I can’t help but see teen employees as students (of course, sometimes they are!).  I catch myself gently guiding them as they navigate taking my order.  The mom in me is here to stay too.  I was at a Master’s class and noticed one of my classmates fighting a runny nose and cough.  As I took notes and listened to the lecture, I instinctively grabbed Kleenex out of my purse and passed it down.  Afterward as she thanked me, she laughed and said, “I should have known you’d have Kleenex with you.  You’re such a mom.”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus identified Himself and His work as the Good Shepherd.  It reveals that He values the care of His flock with nurturing and protective love.  He lives with them, guides them, feeds them, and protects them at all costs.  Moreover, His sheep belong to Him.  The hired hand works transitionally – for the day and for income.  He may be providing for a family or saving for a pasture of sheep of his own, but the flock he watches temporarily is not his love nor his own.  In consequence he will not risk or sacrifice much for it. Christ on the other hand, knows each sheep by name and would sacrifice His own life to save even one. 

I lay down my life, that I may take it again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own.” John 10:17-18

We are not just a number to Christ nor is He a distant king.  Rather, He dwells here in our midst, in our mess, in our lowliness – and He loves it. He cares for even the smallest details of our lives.

Pope Francis emphasizes this as well in his Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate:

the Lord is ever mindful of you; he never forgets you. So it makes sense to ask him to shed light on the smallest details of your life, for he sees them all.” no. 153

 Before His Ascension into Heaven, Jesus entrusted His flock to Peter – not as a hired hand or a babysitter – but as a steward in Jesus’ name loving His flock with the love of Christ. 

“Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’  He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’  A second time He said to him, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’  He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’”  John 21:15-16

At baptism each of us receives a calling from Christ, a flock to tend.  Although He works personally in hearts through grace, He also personally cares for His sheep through His Mystical Body the Church – you and me.  Jesus asks each of us to love Him by loving those He has entrusted to our care.  This includes your family, co-workers, and the particular ministry to which God has called you. 

The important thing is that each believer discern his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts…We are called to be witnesses, but there are many actual ways of bearing witness.” (Pope Francis, Gaudete et Exsultate no. 11)   “Each saint is a mission, planned by the Father to reflect and embody, at a specific moment in history, a certain aspect of the Gospel.” (no. 19)

To love with the heart of Christ, He shapes us in prayer. He pours His love into us, from which we receive the generosity and joy to serve.  He opens our eyes to see others with the love in which He sees them, and to see their needs as He does, down to the smallest detail.

Holiness is about loving our Good Shepherd and in turn loving the sheep whose care He shares with us.  Wherever God has placed us, we can witness Him to others through our sacrificial love.  After learning to trust Jesus’ little shepherd, they might take a leap of faith and trust the Good Shepherd Himself.

Consider:

  • Reflect on Christ’s love for you, down to the smallest detail of your life.  Take a moment to lay your worries and your hopes before Him and to rest in His care.
  • Pray for your little flocks.  Who has Christ placed in your life?  How might you serve them with love and joy? 
  • Meditate on the love of Mary, who cares for everyone who belongs to her Son and consecrated her whole life to His mission. 

Practical Application:

  • Pray Psalm 23 each day this week.
  • Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for an increase of Trust in Christ’s Merciful Love.
  • Read the Biography of Blessed Stanly Rother – an American priest who returned to his mission in Guatemala to die with his people so they wouldn’t die without him.

All Rights Reserved © 2020 Angela M Jendro

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