Monday, December 8, 2014

Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent - Bl. Charles de Foucauld

If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?...

In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.
- Matthew 18:12, 14
The image of the Good Shepherd is one of the most well-beloved ways of understanding God’s provident care. Saint Gregory the Great, reflecting on Christ, the Good Shepherd, noted that anyone who follows this Shepherd will “enter into a life of faith; from faith he will go out to vision, from belief to contemplation, and will graze in the good pastures of everlasting life… Beloved, let us set out for these pastures, where we shall keep joyful festival with so many of our fellow citizens.” He concluded, “No matter what obstacles we encounter, we must not allow them to turn us aside from the joy of the heavenly feast” (Homily 143-6).  

For the exiled people of Israel, this vision of the One who would tend the flock and gather the lambs into his arms (cf. Isaiah 40:11) was a foreshadowing that Good Shepherd who would gather the Church from among the nations.

No one who knew Charles de Foucauld as a young man would probably ever imagine that he would not only come to dedicate his life to this Good Shepherd, but that he would, himself, become a pastor to the nomadic Tuareg people of Algeria’s Sahara Desert. A new kind of missionary, he left behind the wealth of his childhood and the security of his Trappist monastery to live among the poorest people in the world, sharing their life and hardships. He wrote: "In order to save us, God came to us and lived among us, from the Annunciation to the Ascension, in a close and familiar way. God continues to come to us and to live with us in a close and familiar way, each day and at every hour, in the holy Eucharist. So we too must go and live among our brothers and sisters in a close and familiar way."
Charles’ contemplative heart and generous spirit allowed him to truly understand the meaning of the Incarnation—that God had come among men and women, to share in and redeem the struggles of humanity. He modeled his life after the example of Jesus who is Emmanuel, "God With Us."

Advent challenges us to stop in the midst of all our busy-ness to pay attention to what is going on around us and to be attentive to the ways that Christ is inviting each of us to help shepherd and guide the straying sheep.

Through our prayer, attentive listening and watching, and our acts of charity we are able to carry the love of our Shepherd into those dark places - sad and heavy hearts - where it is most needed. Take time this week to look around your community, your parish, your workplace, or your home to see who needs to feel the care and tenderness of our Good Shepherd who is at work in and through you.

Prayer for Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent +
O God, who have shown forth your salvation
to all the ends of the earth,
grant, we pray,
that we may look forward in joy
to the glorious Nativity of Christ.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)

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