Smelling like sheep

Praising in the hallwayEveryone keeps asking how we are enjoying retirement!

Enjoyment is not the word I would use yet, as we are still waiting for God to open the next door for us. Having lived for 38 years like “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep” (as the new Pope described pastoral ministry), its hard to adjust just like that to another smell – the smell of the sea!

Our hearts and thoughts and prayers are still with those we no longer move amongst:

  • Like the one feeling very low after suffering a set-back in hospital – too far away for us to visit.

  • Or with those celebrating the 65th anniversary of the ship Windrush bringing the first West Indians to the UK to help rebuild our country after the destruction of the second world war.
  • Or with Agnes and the eight children having to hide in a safe house in Kenya because of her husband’s commitment to protect the defenceless women and children in the on going conflict in the Congo. Our old church is no longer able to support her and pay the rent, to her great distress. What will become of them?
  • Or a family who have a young child in danger of having their home repossessed.
  • Or a young ,well qualified, black guy desperate to get a permanent job.
  • Or Masih das and Sarita making inroads into the tribal villages of the ‘untouchables’ in India (see the latest heart stirring report from them recently posted here).
  • And the many single young people trying to live full on for Jesus but facing so many challenges and temptations.

Pope Francis warned that a priest who never puts his heart on the line “never hears a warm, heartfelt word of thanks.” Instead, he said, he becomes a manager rather than a mediator.

“This is precisely the reason for the dissatisfaction of some, who end up sad — sad priests — in some sense becoming collectors of antiques or novelties, instead of being shepherds living with “the smell of the sheep”,” the Pope explained.

“This I ask you: be shepherds, with the “odour of the sheep”, make it real, as shepherds among your flock, fishers of men’.

This is the smell we’re missing so much, and until God opens another door and we get a whiff of it again we’ll try to keep praising him.

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