This winter we have witnessed the power unleashed by hurricanes, tornadoes and heavy snowstorms. These are all forces of nature. I remember several years ago driving through a 300 mile stretch of Texas. Only the day before a tornado had swept down and up, down and up. It followed the same 300 mile route that we were traveling. It left a church building with its roof gone, and the pews stacked up against each other. As we drove through a small town the local grocery store was roofless and a huge highway sign was draped in corrugated metal dangling from either side.I still remember scenes of wrecked homes and insulation splattered against tree trunks. Yet this is the power of our natural universe.
The Holy Spirit--God's Power--is an unstoppable force. One of my favorite Bible verses is in St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians:
"To him whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine--to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, world without end. Amen." (3:20)Paul had experienced in his very being that power he was telling us about. Christ had turned him from a ferocious persecutor of Christians to one of Christ's foremost spokesmen. We do not live in denial of the evil and negative events and actions that occur in our lives. Sins are committed, rights are denied, even human trafficking is all too common. Yet as Paul reminds us "we are more than conquerors" in the midst of all this. We do not panic and join the doomsday sayers. We are part of Christ's flocks. He does not abandon his sheep. He lays down his life for us. And he takes it up again.
Tonight I was reminded of a daily sight I experienced on the way to our classes in Rome. Our convent or generalate as it is called, lies not far from Rome's city limits. As two car loads of us Sisters drove to class on the busy Via della Pisana we passed many apartment houses, and businesses. There is even a large Ford auto sales place. Then we would make a right turn onto a street with scattered businesses to our left followed by drab concrete housing projects. Patches of grass separated the buildings. To our right was an expansive field of emerald green grass with low slung electrical grid The toweers resemble short, stout weight lifters with arms raised supporting thick wires with electrical power for miles. The towers seemed lower to the ground than those in the USA. Amid the trucks, cars and other modern trappings we always witnessed a shepherd with his flock on that stretch of highway. Always the same man, rain or shine. He must have been a good shepherd.
He was a modern Good Shepherd: boots instead of sandals; umbrella instead of a staff; and cell phone rather than a King David model harp. On one rainy day he stood out with his black boots, huge black umbrella and his cell phone. His flock never strayed far from him.They munched away at the urban grass. The sheep were content and secure. Why if even one sheep did go astray the shepherd could have alerted the local carabinieri to help find his stray sheep. We have Jesus the Good Shepherd always with us, watching over us. Even in the midst of troubles, aggravations, pain and sorrows he is there with us. He says to us just as he said to Peter and the men with him on the rough Sea of Galilee: "It is I do not be afraid."