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Of Sheep and Men.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
https://www.catholicamericanthinker.com
The nucleus of a homily by a learned and wise professor and priest.

Sheep are mentioned more than 500 times in Scripture, which is significantly more than any other animal. In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, sheep are the favorite analogy in describing people and their relationship with the Father in heaven. We are sheep. While being sheep of our Lord’s flock is a blessing, it isn’t much of a compliment, I am afraid!

But maybe it is; let’s see and have a closer look.

There are quite some negative traits that can be pointed out about sheep:

  1. Sheep of all domestic animals require the most care and supervision. Left to themselves, sheep have an unlimited capacity for getting into trouble.
  2. Sheep are compelled by mob instinct. Sheep take their queues from each other. If one sheep panics, they all panic. They tend to go with the flow, even if the flow is going in the wrong direction. They have a tendency to wander off. Sheep are forever getting lost.
  3. Sheep are very susceptible to fear. The average sheep is a coward. One loud noise of any kind – it doesn’t have to be the howl of a wolf – sends the flock in every direction. When confronted with danger, sheep panic.
  4. Sheep are very destructive. Sheep have the very bad habit of being very hard on the pasture. When they graze they don’t trim the grass they eat. They bite down and pull up, removing the roots, and not only the stems.
  5. Sheep are very vulnerable to predators. Among animals, sheep are wimps. They are weak, slow, stupid and defenseless.
  6. Sheep have an incredible ability to get dirty. They easily turn every shade of gray and brown imaginable. Sheep get dirty and stay that way until somebody cleans them up.

Whether we like it or not, we are in many ways like sheep. As time passes we get dirty, until it becomes obvious that we need a good cleaning. God offers a good cleaning in the Sacrament of Confession. We require more care than any other animal and God loves to give us that care. We have a mob instinct, but when that is channeled, it can become a great show of unity. We are subject to fear, but he gives us courage and the peace that surpasses all our understanding. We are also timid, but he makes us brave. All of us have a tendency to wander off now and then, but our shepherd always finds us. He forgives us and cleans us so that we are ever presentable to God the Father.

The most important thing is that sheep are clearly God’s favorite animals. In a world filled with majestic animals like lions, horses and eagles, the Lord chose sheep. And there isn’t a better metaphor in Scripture for our relationship to God. We are his sheep. God’s sheep have a special role to play in God’s plan:

  1. Sheep have horns. The first trumpets were ram’s horns. Those ram’s horns or trumpets were announcing the presence of the Lord (see Joshua.) They were instruments of praise. They were part of a mighty victory. The trumpet sound was made with a ram’s horn. That means that sheep can literally be instruments of praise. We, being the Lord’s sheep, can announce his presence and majesty.
  2. Sheep are the favorite meat in the Middle East; they also give us milk and wool. Sheepskins are used for shelter and clothing. Sheep bones can be made into sewing needles and are used as scraping tools. Intestines are made into strings for musical instruments. There is much goodness and usefulness in sheep. Nothing or almost nothing is wasted. We can be instruments of God’s bounty and mercy, more effectively than any sheep that ever lived. What being God’s sheep means more than anything is that we have great potential in God’s plan. Once in his flock, even our weaknesses become strengths.
  3. Sheep plant seeds that will ensure future pastures. In biblical times, sheep were instrumental in planting seeds. During harvest, wheat seeds were knocked from the wheat stalks onto the ground. They would lay on the surface and be eaten by the birds. This is when shepherds would bring their flocks into the fields. The pointed cloven hooves of the sheep would make holes one-half to one inch deep, and the seed would be pressed into the ground. Seed planting is one of our main responsibilities as part of God’s flock. God’s word must be pressed into the ground of our minds and hearts. The harvest will be the Kingdom of God.

With all this, how can we still doubt that we are God’s favorite animal? And should some doubt still linger, think of this: I am one of God’s sheep, and he was willing to die for me. Nothing we have ever done declares our value in God’s eye more than Christ’s death for us. At that historic moment, Jesus laid down his life on the cross for his sheep, and we became priceless. Even the least of Christ’s sheep is of more value than anything else on earth, and the same price was paid for all of us. We may then conclude with Erasmus of Rotterdam: “O dumb sheep you! Did it ever dawn on you that it has pleased God to save the world by foolishness, since it could never be redeemed by wisdom?”



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Footnotes:

Smart-Assed Acronym Hover-Link Footnotes: For the convenience of those readers using devises that lack a mouse, these footnotes are provided for all webpages, in case any webpage contains any hover-links. (If you don't have a mouse, you can't "hover" it over a link without clicking just to see the simple acronym interpretation.)

SLIMC1 Secularist Liberal Intellectual Media Complex
GESGOEAEOT2 Gradually, Ever So Gradually, Over Eons And Eons Of Time
PEWAG3 Punctuated Equilibrium's Wild-Assed Guess
TTRSTF4 Them There Real Scientifical-Type Fellers
TTRSPTF5 Them There Real Smart Perfesser-Type Fellers
TTRSJTF6 Them There Real Smart Journalistical-Type Fellers
SNRTACBT7 Surely No Right Thinking Adult Could Believe Today
STNSEACPB8 Surely Today No Serious Educated Adult Could Possibly Believe
WDN9 We Don't Know
BMDFP10 Baboons, Mongrel Dogs, Filthy Pigs and ...
HBAACOTE11 Human Beings Are A Cancer On The Earth
ACLU12 Anti-Christian Litigation Union
FLORMPORIF13 Flagrant Liar, Or, Mindless Parrot, Or, Innocent Fool
MEJTML14 Marxist Ends-Justify-The-Means Liar
IEJTML15 Islamic Ends-Ends-Justify-The-Means Liar
MPAV16 Marxist Principles And Values
WBESSWG17 Wise, Benign, Elite, Super-Scientific World Governance
TRMITM18 The Reason Man's In This Mess
IYI19 Intellectual Yet Idiotic

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