The plane was moving ahead smoothly when the captain made an announcement on the audio system. “I have to announce to you that a series of inconveniences just happened to our plane. The passengers on the right side would notice, if they look out of the window that one of the engines is burning, and the other has died out. Those on the right side would perceive that one engine is missing; it fell off about ten minutes ago. But do not worry, technology today has developed to such an extent that this plane can continue flying even on the one engine left.
I would also like to call your attention to something somewhat more serious. Along the center aisle all the way down the plane a crack has developed. Those on the aisle can look through the crack and may even notice a small lifeboat that was thrown down from the plane. Well, ladies and gentlemen, you will be happy to know that your captain is keeping an eye on the progress of the plane from that lifeboat below.”
This is just a funny story but we Christians can comfort ourselves knowing that this kind of unpleasant situation will never happen to us. Even when everything around us seems to be crumbling, the Person in Charge would never parachute himself away from our plane and try to guide us from a raft on the ocean far below. Jesus Christ defines himself as our Shepherd and a good shepherd always remains with his flock. Always is always.
Mentioning sheep and shepherds, there is the story of the American tourist who was touring the Middle East. Once he came upon some shepherds whose flocks had intermingled while drinking water from a creek. Water is scarce in that part of the world and so it happens often that various flocks approach the same source. After some time one of the shepherds turned toward the sheep and called out, “Ejja,ejja!” (“follow me” in Arabic). Immediately his sheep separated themselves from the rest and followed him.
A few minutes later, another shepherd called out his sheep and sure enough they left the joint flock to follow him. Rather intrigued, the traveller asked the third shepherd, “I would like to try that. Let me put on your cloak and headdress and see if I can get the rest of the sheep to follow me.” The shepherd smiled knowingly as the traveler wrapped himself in the local shepherd’s cloth and started calling the sheep. Not one of them budged! “Will the sheep ever follow someone other than you?” The traveler asked. “Oh yes,” the shepherd replied, “sometimes a sheep gets sick, and then it will follow anyone.”
I always find this story true! How many of us, troubled by so many alien and deceitful voices urging us to go this way and that, lose our bearings and so do not know where we are heading towards. Like the sheep that are sick, we follow anyone who promises us a fleeting moment of pleasure or a moment of forgetfulness. Obviously, not following a good lead can only lead to hopelessness.
There is only One who said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” There is no better way, no greater truth, no happier life.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.