JOHN 10: 27-30 APRIL 25, 2010
It is so nice for the shepherd to have sheep that listen to his voice and respond to his commands right away. I wish I had a dog that paid me such focused attention. But all I have is Jabba, and she is a dog who pays attention to my voice when it suits her. When she wants a walk she is very attentive to me. She will put her paws on my leg and bark for a walk. When I put the leash on her and we go outside, she almost immediately stops to sniff something. I say, "Let's go Jabba. Don't you want to walk?" In fact I have things to do other than walk Jabba. But she ignores me. If I pull on the least, she pulls in the opposite direction. Eventually, she looks up at me as if to say, "Oh, are you still here?"
I have come to realize that my attention to God is about what Jabba's attention is to me. In the morning, when I wake up, I tell God that I will be attentive to God and to please walk with me through the day. Then I go about my business, sniffing at this or that project, and forget about God. Now and again in the day I might recall, "Oh, God, you are still here." Then I promptly go back to whatever I was otherwise doing or thinking. I have ADD spirituality, a very short attention span for matters of the Spirit.
I wish I were more like the sheep in the Gospel, who are always attentive to the shepherd, but I am not. I am just an imperfect human being. So what is the Good News for me? The Good News is that God never abandons me even if I ignore the Presence. I have Jabba on a leash. I will not abandon her. I will not release the leash and let her go off to get hit by a car. Jabba will someday die and she might get sick. These are things I cannot change, but I will not abandon her otherwise.
God will not abandon me, though I will die and will get sick from time to time. God's Presence is not a reward for my being attentive. It is rather God's unconditional love that is always available for me to enjoy. Parish churches are good shepherds. If you only occasionally attend worship services, the church does not go away. It is going to be open and available to you whenever you decide to go there.
Regardless of my response to Divine Love, God's response to me is always, "I love you." I hope someday to better attend to God's love, than Jabba attends to me on our walks.