“The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
This is a blog for priests, and for anyone who desires to help priests to be brave shepherds after the heart of Jesus.
Jesus Christ is truly God, but he humbled himself and plunged into our human mess. He is the Good Shepherd who seeks out the lost sheep. He is the Brave Shepherd who has gone first into and through the dark valley – before inviting us to follow. There was no place in the human heart too dark, too scary, or too overwhelming for him to engage. He took on each and every human heartache and willingly offered himself to the Father on the Cross. Because of Christ’s Paschal victory, there is no place in the human heart that we cannot go without encountering his love and truth.
Those of us who say “yes” to the call to the priesthood become, in a shared and secondary sense, truly divine and truly human. Truly divine in the sense that God genuinely works through us as we minister. Truly human in that we bring our story, our wounds, and our weaknesses into ordination and ministry. We hold an amazing treasure within the fragile vessel of our own humanity.
On ordination day, we priests promised (with the help of God) to offer ourselves totally to the Father in imitation of Jesus. But the freedom and fruitfulness of our offering is only there to the extent that we are willing to engage the depths of our own humanity.
Like most humans, we priests are afraid to go into the dark and scary places of our story. Given our high level of education, we can be particularly skilled at avoiding, denying, and minimizing our problems or our pain. When we bypass our humanity, our heartache, and our full and true story, we abandon and harm the sheep who need compassionate and wise care. They often come to us trying to make sense of their story.
When we are willing to be brave shepherds who go there first, there is an amazing fruitfulness for the Kingdom of God – the fruitfulness that attracted us to this calling in the first place.
This blog offers a combination of teaching and personal story. The teaching seeks to integrate Scripture, Catholic Tradition, and all the latest insights from research on neurobiology and trauma. The personal story is offered to put flesh onto the teaching, and to invite the readers to be curious about their own story.