“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7“
Father Fidelis, who you can read about in the link below, is just such a foolish shepherd. For what kind of a nutcase shepherd would leave the flock for which he was responsible to find one measly sheep? This parable’s rhetorical question at the beginning was intended to make the audience snicker in derision at such an obtuse shepherd.
Shepherds in Jesus’ time could be featured on the “Dirty Jobs” TV show in our modern age for the type of work they did. And in some places in the world, still do. Shepherds were not able to keep themselves particularly clean or kempt, they were not educated in the ways of their faith, and they had nowhere to lay their heads (they moved around a lot looking for greener pastures and water). Shepherds had to help birth calves which could not have been a pristeen enterprise. They had to guard their flocks against wild animals and keep the prized sheep from harm so they could be properly used as sacrifices to God.
And then there is Jesus, the King of Kings, who is the epitome of humility – humble enough to become human and then allow Himself to be born in a stable. And who are the first people to hear the Good News outside of the young maiden, Mary, who will bear this Child? Shepherds abiding in the fields. You know the passage from Luke, right? We romanticize the event on Christmas cards and during church services during Christmas season, but shepherding was not a glamorous line of work. Though that sort of skilled labor, like all skilled labor, was necessary for the society of its time to operate smoothly and, more importantly at that time, according to God’s Law.
The Lord, in Jesus the man, gives shepherds their due on more than one occasion. And to sort of drive home the point as an adult, in the midst of His mission on earth to save all of humanity, Jesus tells a parable about the shepherd who is crazy enough to leave his flock (and it wasn’t really his anyway; he kept watch and tended the sheep for their owners) to go in search of one lone, lowly creature. That’s the kind of God we serve; that’s the kind of love God has for each one of us.
It occurs to me that Father Fidelis is such a shepherd. He is “crazy in love” with the people God made, all of them. Even the ones in the womb of the lost women who feel they have no choice, or don’t know there is a choice, or who have been lied to about what “choice” means. He is so crazy in love with His God who loved each of us into being, Fidelis believes that Almighty God is the only One who, by all that is just and right, gets to say it’s time to leave this earthly dwelling. Father Fidelis will thus go to extraordinary lengths to defend both persons’ lives. None are too lowly, too far gone. None are to tiny, too insignificant. No one is beyond saving because each one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image and likeness of our God. By Him and for Him.
Jesus says when we love and care for “the least of these,” we love and care for Him. Father Fidelis sees Jesus in each woman, each mother, who seeks to end the life of her unborn child. He knows the hidden Jesus in each of those preborn infants is also worthy of saving.
Read about this foolish shepherd. Be amazed and consider reverently and soberly the depth of Father Fidelis’ love for each one he tries to save. May God continue to bless him with grace and peace. It’s obvious the good friar has those in abundance. And God bless his mission to save even one of those unborn children. Because in so doing, he is saving the mother, too. And defending the innate dignity of each, as a child of God.
One thought on “On Lost Sheep and Good Shepherds”
God bless Fr Fidelis.