Daily Reflection: December 6, 2011

Tuesday of the second week of Advent

Is 40:1-11

Ps 96:1-2, 3 and 10ac, 11-12, 13

Mt 18:12-14

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

Was I smug or just complacent?  Or was I something else?

Today’s Gospel reading was one with which I had become quite familiar over the years.  I could breeze through it.  Jesus tells his disciples – and us – that a good shepherd will not just tend to the ninety-nine sheep in his care.  He will go looking for the one that is lost.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I appreciated the assurance Jesus gives each of us.  In fact, I entreated Him to go after – to save – some “lost” people I know and care deeply for.  But me?  I was already found.  I had accepted Jesus as my Savior.  I would just hang back with my other ninety-eight sheep buddies who had had the same good fortune.

Then life struck.  I experienced a series of hardships and then a tragedy that brought me, quite literally, to my knees.  As in Isaiah 40:8, the grass had withered; the flower of my life had wilted.

But that’s not where my story ends.  That’s where it begins.

On March 9, 2011, I decided to attend an Ash Wednesday service being held in, of all places, a courtroom in the university’s law school.  As a Protestant, I didn’t know the Catholic liturgy.  I didn’t know when to stand up (or if there had been a place to kneel, when to kneel), and I didn’t know the prayers and responses being recited by my students and others around me.  It didn’t matter.  In one moment – what I consider a sacred moment, everything congealed.  “I’m home,” I thought to myself as the Eucharist, the very presence of Jesus himself, was being celebrated.

I am now a “Catholic in training.”  I will become a member of the Catholic Church on Easter 2012.  For me, it feels like I have been, since Ash Wednesday, in a period of perpetual Advent – a time of hopeful expectation.

When I entered that oddest of sanctuaries on March 9, I knew that I had reached a point in my life where I needed more than to hear about Jesus, pray to Him, and worship Him, as important as all of that is.  I needed to be with Jesus.

But I confess that during that fateful service, I did not find Jesus.  I, in my brokenness, was one very lost sheep.  And He found me.

Lynn Branham is a visiting professor at the School of Law.

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