“The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11).
Over the last few weeks, every time I sit down to pray, I seem to remember the words of Christ when He sent his disciples out to bring the news of the Kingdom of God all nations and He told them that they should go out without even a “purse or bag or sandals…”
“‘Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.’” (Luke 10:3-4).
What a command! Go – take NOTHING with you – but GO.
When I reflect on this, I am quite literally shocked. All the years of hearing this Gospel and it never meant anything to me before, but suddenly, in the last few days and weeks, this phrase is playing over and over and over inside my head…
It means something to me now. It is profound!
Think about what travel was like in those days… It was dangerous! There were no airports, train stations, bus stops, taxis, Ubers, cars or even bikes or scooters. There were horses and donkeys for those who were rich and lucky enough, and then there were feet – to walk on.
And where did such feet walk? Over the roads, which were often dirt roads that people followed using maps of the area or word of mouth of people who they passed by. Those roads were dusty in the heat and muddy in the rain. And they were dangerous too… There were animals on those roads – wolves, foxes, dogs, snakes, birds of prey – they would pass you by... There were insects and bugs, spiders and scorpions too – just the right size to scurry into a blanket while you were asleep.
Have you ever been camping? Though I am not a great camper and my husband is even worse than me, we have taken our family camping a couple of times since the COVID19 pandemic began, and I can honestly say that I do not think that we shall be attempting that again for a very very long time – if ever…
While many people – including my children – love camping, I have found camping to be a very uncomfortable experience. It is dirty and it smells. There is no running water and nowhere comfortable to sit or to sleep. There is no light, often no bathrooms, and nowhere to shower. Some would say that this is the charm of the experience. It did not seem very charming to me – though it was admittedly a good excuse to wind back and relax after the business of life…
I wonder if Christ and His apostles, or His Blessed Mother, found the experience charming? After all, they did not camp as a holiday from their everyday lives… They camped as part of their job! For them it was not a step away from the realities of their day – it was their day itself…
And they did this without a boot-full of supplies to make their life easier while they were there – there were no sleeping bags, modern tents, inflatable mattresses, barbeques, eskies and ice... They did this without “a purse or bag or sandals”. They did this, being sent out as “lambs among wolves…”
And it was not just the disciples who did such a thing… Our Blessed Mother did this even before Her Holy Son was born. For she rushed out to be with her elderly cousin, Saint Elizabeth, after hearing that she was pregnant with Saint John the Baptist… “Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” (Luke 1:39).
“Mary went with great haste…” She rushed off to do the will of God – pregnant, alone, probably very worried about her own situation because she would be stoned to death if it was discovered that Saint Joseph was not her child’s father, reeling from her own recently shocking news, having conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit – Mary made haste… Camping out, risking injury or death by animals or bandits on the road, with all her own worries upon her soul – Mary went out presumably without “a purse or bag or sandals” – or at least minimal of each if she did take them… For she went out with haste.
Because Our Blessed Mother – and all the apostles in fact – understood something that I often forget…
When God sends a soul out as a lamb among wolves, we have nothing to fear – because God is the Good Shepherd, and “The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep…” (John 10:11).
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.