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SHEPHERD DOG

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A frightening thing tumbles down the mountain and sends flying clouds of dust. It's like a hairy rocket with a smoldering look which slavers and shows fearsome teeth. It barks like a devil and jumps into the air, trying to eat us alive, my horse and I.

That thing is a shepherd dog that watches over the sheep, takes their defense and protects them.  It never allows anyone to come near the flock, neither a wolf, nor a weasel; no one except the shepherd. Never in my life had I ever seen an animal neither so furious nor so devoted to other animals.

To transform it into a fearsome defender of sheep, the puppy immediately at birth is taken away from its mother and entrusted to an ewe that suckle it like she would her own lambs. In that way, the puppy, while remaining a dog, becomes the brother of the sheep, if not by blood, at least by milk.

The Pope said to the priests: Be near the people, near the poor like a shepherd is with his sheep.  Make sure that you smell like sheep...

And I would add: let us be inspired by the shepherd dog.

Let us put aside that model of those little teachers and bureaucrats in charge of holy things on which most priests of our generation were cut out.  At all cost, that style has to change. For the Nicodemuses of a certain age, it could be rather an impossible mission, but not for the younger generation.

Let us free our future pastors and pastoral agents from the ancient moulds which are excessively academic and monastic and make sure that they get their formation by mixing with everybody, especially with the poor, the little ones, those put aside and excluded.

May they draw the inspiration of their spirituality from what the wounded and those marginalized in society are living, suffering and are hoping for. May they be infected with their pain and their anger, their hopes and their joys. May the vast world situated under the little middle class become their world; and may they stick to them like the world of the sheep to the shepherd dog.  May they build their theology from that point of departure instead of receiving it already cooked in the cloisters of our church institutions.

Of what Gospel will they be witnesses if they do not practice themselves to look at the world with the eyes of the poor and of the marginalized, with their thirsts, their dreams and also their anger?

These future pastors must at all cost learn to bare their teeth in the defense of the little ones and be ready to swallow (with the horse and all) the injustice which, each day, is taking the shirt off their back. Most especially, they have to learn to detect the gross dupery of the great system which presents itself to humanity and to the planet as the remedy for all evils when it is in itself the main cause of it all.

This story of a shepherd dog, of course, is only a metaphor. Human beings are not sheep and the pastor is not a dog. Jesus who said «blessed are the meek» would certainly not appreciate seeing his disciples transform themselves into ferocious animals like that enraged dog which I have described earlier...

Yet, let us remember at least what follows: Jesus and the prophets (who did not sniff at metaphors) had their heart overflowing with compassion and love for peace, but they were never afraid of barking.

We also, at times, we bark, but who exactly do we frighten: the nasty wolves or...only the sheep which bleat in their own way?


Eloy Roy

Translated from the French by Jacques Bourdages

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