Today’s Catholic Mass Readings:
Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
A reflection on today’s Gospel:
“Do not live in fear, little flock.” (Luke 12:32)
“The seed and beginning of the Kingdom are the ‘little flock’ of those whom Jesus came to gather around Him, the flock whose Shepherd He is. They form Jesus’ true family. To those whom He thus gathered around Him, He taught a new ‘way of acting’ and a prayer of their own.” (Catechism Para. 764)
When I was a teen, my family moved from the city to a farm in the country. For the novelty of it, my parents bought several farm animals for us to learn about and care for. I didn’t take to rural living as quickly as the others and never got too involved with the animals. I missed our home in the suburbs, but the rest of the family jumped right in and began to raise a small herd of sheep for wool and pasturing of lambs.
One early Spring morning during lambing season, they all went to the barn to see to the birthings, and I decided to go along. When we discovered that one of the newborns had been abandoned by her mother, my mom asked whether I’d like to care for her. I excitedly agreed, so she taught me how to mix lamb milk formula in a baby bottle and feed the infant by hand. She was starving and finished the bottle in no time. For weeks thereafter, I was up before dawn preparing her bottle while she started up the hill from the barn toward the back door to find me, bouncing as she ran, her small hooves clicking on the pavement until she was at my ankles. “Baa haa haa haa,” she’d cry, until I positioned the bottle for her to drink until every drop was gone. She’d follow me around until it was time for me to go in and get ready for school, all the while pacing and bleating at me through the storm door until I’d return to walk her back to the barn while she nuzzled at my feet as her thank you for a hearty breakfast.
I hand fed her several times a day until Summer came and she was strong enough to graze and flock with the other sheep. I got busy with my own interests, but occasionally would take the time to spot her in the flock. At first she’d recognize my voice and would come running to me, but before long she became a mother herself and I was unable to pick her out in the flock. As I went about my teenage life, I stopped thinking about her, because I knew she was being cared for the way God had intended.
That was nearly 40 years ago, and in truth, I’d forgotton her until I read today’s Gospel. She had been the seed that taught me how to help the abandoned and to love – the way I’m loved as one of Jesus’ “little flock,” whom He continues to gather around Him today. Trustingly, she came to me for sustenance until she was ready to settle with her flock, just as I come to Holy Mother Church for nourishment and dwell in the flock whose kind and loving Shepherd sustains me.
Elizabeth A. Tichvon