Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
It has been observed that sheep get lost “a few steps at a time.” You can understand how that happens. Apparently, sheep have lousy eyesight. They find some grass, eat it up, and nudge themselves a little further, a few steps this way or that, to locate some more grass. That grass gets eaten, and they go another few steps in one direction or another to find still more. Suddenly they realize they’re not where they started. Suddenly they discover they’re nowhere near the rest of the flock and their shepherd. And they had no idea they strayed so far.
Getting lost a few steps at a time. Most of us go astray once in a while. Life gets busy, and we forget to pray. We forget to be kind. Too busy to see those in need. Most of the time, we simply move a little bit this way or that, and only as time goes on, do we discover how far we’ve strayed. It’s that easy.
Most of us don’t consider ourselves mean or vicious. We claim we’d never think of harming another person. Yet we hurt feelings with just a few words, a bit of innuendo, add a little negativism, and some indifference thrown in for good measure. A little bit of gossip and backbiting doesn’t seem like all that much, does it? The reality is we easily go astray and get terribly lost by means of very little actions we or others do. It takes only a few steps at a time.
How blessed we are to have Jesus to shepherd us! How loved by God are we that he sends us Jesus, God’s only Son, to lay down his life to protect us and guide us. We are so easily led astray we so easily wander into trouble a few steps at a time. Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.” Jesus doesn’t mention our tendency to wander. Jesus doesn’t say only the good sheep are in the flock. Jesus calls us back with that voice we hear in the Scripture. Back into the fold with all the other sheep where we are safe and loved. Thanks be to God. Amen.