Spirituality for Today – June 2008 – Volume 12, Issue 11

Editorial – Shepherd One

By Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

We are all familiar with the name Air Force One - the President's airplane. How many are aware that the name Shepherd One is that designation given to the Pope's airplane? What a beautiful metaphor for the man who is pope! The pope is the number one shepherd of the Catholic faithful and the pre-eminent voice of moral authority in the world. The shadow of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United States has stretched across the nation. He spoke - and much more than that - he revealed in his being a message of faith, hope, love, compassion, and courage.

The pope is becoming a missionary, you will say.
Yes, the pope is becoming a missionary, which means
a witness, a shepherd.

– Pope Paul VI

Throngs cheered, cried, and applauded wildly in celebration of the pope's presence among them and of his message for them. Assuredly, the haters would also crawl out and spew their venom. The fact that the Church does more good in the world in five minutes than all of them would do in five lifetimes eludes them. The Holy Father deflated their malice by the fullness and the depth of his concern and outreach to those who had suffered the terrors of the sex abuse scandal. Pope Benedict is no stranger to terror, hatred, and the denial of human dignity and worth. The experience of the Germany of his youth, the Germany of Adolph Hitler steeled him against the lies, the arrogance, the myopia, and the cruelty of totalitarianism. When it comes to the machinations of evil, he knows of what he speaks. As a shepherd, the pope recognizes that his flock is threatened continuously by the wolves that lie in the high grass waiting to strike. His act of protection may be found in his statement to the mass of youth assembled before him in the pasture at Yonkers, New York: "Deepen your friendship with Jesus the Good Shepherd."

We dare not depend on our wits alone to discern the merit of the many influences surrounding us in our daily lives. Through the language of the heart, our conversation with Jesus adds a divine guidance to the human workings of decision making. Utilizing this friendship with Our Lord, we are better able to produce the person God's grace and our faith instill in us rather than the person our variable moods and passions make of us. In addition, we are comforted and reassured that the "Shepherd" who laid down his life for us and rose from the dead thwarting all evil and gifting us with eternal life protects us still. There is nothing that life can do to us that we with God can't handle. And through God, there is nothing that we can do in life that would not be of benefit. Thus, the call of Pope Benedict for us to grow in strengthening this relationship with Jesus produces lifelong effects.

People want to feel that they belong to someone who loves them and that they are in communion with something good. While among us, the Shepherd of the Catholic Church brilliantly offered both of those things. A powerful compliment to all Pope Benedict had to give was his willingness to receive. Any fair observer would affirm that during his stay with us the pope truly listened to his flock. The voice of the people filled the ears of Pope Benedict XVI. We shall await the response of the pope to all that he has heard from the Church in America. It is my firm belief that we shall not be disappointed.