By Sister Nancy Linenkugel
Ash Wednesday’s arrival on March 2, 2022 signals the start of the preparatory season of Lent. I’m reminded of the magnificent chorus piece from Handel’s MESSIAH, “All We Like Sheep” based on that text from Isaiah 53: 6.
This chorus piece is found early in Part II, The Passion Section, of THE MESSIAH oratorio. Part I precedes and focuses on the Prophecy and Birth of Christ, and Part III celebrates the resurrection.
We know that sheep DO go astray as evidenced by the inspiring story of the Good Shepherd found in the Gospels of both John and Matthew.
John 10: 11-16 outlines that Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, will do everything to save and protect the sheep, unlike a hired hand who runs away at danger.
Matthew 18: 10 exhorts that Jesus is the shepherd who will leave a flock of 99 sheep to go find one that is lost.
Sheep are easily distracted. Being social animals, they generally stay together and follow each other for protection. Although sheep have amazing peripheral vision – their eyes are more on the sides of their heads so they can see in all directions, as opposed to humans whose eyes are in the front and work together – when grazing and having heads down, sheep can get lost in the moment of nibbling away at the grass underfoot, never look around, and start wandering to follow where the tasty morsels grow.
Perhaps we can take a lesson from sheep. We, too, can focus so much on what is immediately before us that we also get distracted from the bigger picture of what’s really important. May Lent 2022 provide the opportunity to benefit from the good traits of sheep: being social and caring for each other, showing peacefulness, protecting each other, and using our vision to pay attention to the bigger picture.