Sheep are not terribly bright animals. They seem to be a pretty scatter-brained type of beast. Thus, when they are left to their own devices, they can be a very pitiful sight to see. However, if there is a shepherd to lead and guide them, this all changes quite dramatically. This is the sort of image that Matthew is trying to evoke as He reports on the ministry of Jesus. I wonder how the Church looks to those on the outside of it? I hope that we Christians do not look like a leaderless rabble at the mercy of every change in whim and doctrine that the world presents to us.
In this regard there is always the other side of the coin to consider as well! Sheep are easily led. Thus a shepherd does not usually have a difficult time getting the sheep to go where he wants them to go. How well do we submit our lives to the leading of the Holy Spirit? Are we good sheep or bad sheep in this respect? Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies! We live in a very individualistic age and thus to submit our lives to another’s authority is not a very culturally acceptable thing to do. From the point of view of our faith walk, what do we mean by submitting our lives to the Holy Spirit?
All Christians recognise that God has a plan for their lives. This plan involves our greatest happiness and will eventually lead to eternal life with God. The difficulty comes with trying to discern the exact details of God’s plan. This is not easy. I do not think any of us do this perfectly. However, the degree of perfection to which we succeed will be largely dependent upon our level of willingness to listen to and be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit and to those that God has placed as shepherds over us in this life.
Of course, our primary obedience is always to the voice of God in our conscience, however, the good and proper formation of our conscience will depend upon our willingness to listen to those who have authority in our lives and allow them to teach us the ways of God. These sources of authority and teaching include our parents and the Church and its teachings. There may well be others including the leaders of our lay communities and significant people we respect.
Am I easy to teach or have I got an individualistic streak that I struggle to keep under control?
Lord Jesus, you are the source of all truth. Help me to find the truth of your will for my life and give me the humility to be obedient to it.