I had no idea that St. Patrick worked as a shepherd for a period of time. It is true you learn something new everyday and that is what I learned today.
I say that only because of the coincidence of where the Bible opened today. Today I opened the Bible to Jesus’ description of the Good Shepherd in the Gospel of John:
“I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.”
John 10: 14-16
I have read or heard this part of the Gospel many times before. But what I heard today was: we are all one. Too often it seems we try to split up into teams, sides or folds. We focus on our differences. There are so many today who may not feel like they are in the fold. I suppose we all feel like that at times. But Jesus’s words are clear. Whether you belong to the fold or not, He came here for you. Regardless of your country, your race, your preferences, your religion, we are all one flock. And Jesus came to shepherd us all. To lead us to our Father. To lay down His life for each and every one of His sheep — even when we feel completely lost and left out of the fold. Even when the world tries to separate us.
St. Patrick found sheep who weren’t in the fold and brought them to God. He helped Ireland hear God’s voice.
Lord, help me be like Patrick. Help me reach out to those who may feel outside the fold. Help me to ignore the differences between others and me (all of which truly are minor), and to not get caught up in the divisions that differences create. And finally help me listen to You! Shepherd me O Lord!