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The Good Shepherd: Spiritual Exercise 03/08/21

Please join us Monday 03/08/21 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET)

Zoom Link: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Meeting ID: 4537185699

Opening Prayer:

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. 

Amen

The Good Shepherd

Reflection taken from “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” by Phillip Keller

Book of Psalms

Psalm 23

23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. 

Douay Rheims Version of the Catholic Bible

“All of this (Psalm 23), is summed up here by the psalmist in one brave but simple statement: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life”! The sheep with such a shepherd knows of a surety that his is a privileged position. No matter what comes, at least and always he can be perfectly sure that goodness and mercy will be in the picture. He reassures himself that he is ever under sound, sympathetic, intelligent ownership. What more need he care about? Goodness and mercy will be the treatment he receives from his master’s expert, loving hands. 

Not only is this a bold statement, but it is somewhat of a boast, an exclamation of implicit confidence in the One who controls his career and destiny. How many Christians actually feel this way about Christ? How many of us are truly convinced that no matter what occurs in our lives we are being followed by goodness and mercy? 

Of course, it is very simple to speak this way when things are going well. If my health is excellent, my income is flourishing, my family is well, and my friends are fond of me, it is not hard to say, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” 

But what about when one’s body breaks down? What do I say when I stand by helpless, as I have had to do, and watch a life partner die by degrees under appalling pain? What is my reaction when my job folds up and there is no money to meet bills? What happens if my children can’t make their grades in school or get caught running with the wrong gang? What do I say when suddenly, without good grounds, friends prove false and turn against me? 

These are the sort of times that test a person’s confidence in the care of Christ. These are the occasions during which the chips are down and life is more than a list of pious platitudes. When my little world is falling apart and the dream castles of my ambitions and hopes crumble into ruins, can I honestly declare, “Surely—yes, surely—goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life”? Or is this sheer humbug and a maddening mockery? 

In looking back over my own life, in the light of my love and care for my sheep, I can see again and again a similar compassion and concern for me in my Master’s management of my affairs. There were events, which at the time seemed like utter calamities; there were paths down which He led me that appeared like blind alleys; there were days He took me through which were well-nigh black as night itself. But all in the end turned out for my benefit and my well-being. 

With my limited understanding as a finite human being I could not always comprehend His management executed in infinite wisdom. With my natural tendencies to fear, worry, and ask “why,” it was not always simple to assume that He really did know what He was doing with me. There were times I was tempted to panic, to bolt, and to leave His care. 

Somehow I had the strange, stupid notion I could survive better on my own. Most men and women do. But despite this perverse behavior I am so glad He did not give up. I am so grateful He did follow me in goodness and mercy. The only possible motivation was His own love, His care and concern for me as one of His sheep. And despite my doubts, despite my misgivings about His management of my affairs, He has picked me up and borne me back again in great tenderness. 

As I see all of this in retrospect, I realize that for the one who is truly in Christ’s care, no difficulty can arise, no dilemma emerge, no seeming disaster descend on life without eventual good coming out of the chaos. This is to see the goodness and mercy of my Master in my life. It has become the great foundation of my faith and confidence in Him.”

Questions for reflection. Allow 5-10 minutes in silence for this section of the exercise.

1. How do you see the goodness and mercy of God present in your own life?

2. Where have you been challenged in believing in the Lord’s care for you?

3. As the Good Shepherd, how would you say the Lord has led you through your life? Always through sunny pastures or sometimes through dark valleys?

4. Do you really allow the Lord to manage your affairs?

Group Discussion: During this time we talk about our responses and share how these are seen in our lives.

This entry was posted in: Updates

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Facing Our Immortality Cancer Ministry Facing Our Immortality is a cancer outreach ministry for those affected by cancer, either directly or indirectly. We desire for you a sense of community and renewal through Christ, supported by monthly virtual support groups as well as specialized retreats. Peace and Grace.

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