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An Afternoon of Prayer and Reflection

A few weeks before Good Shepherd Sunday a flyer was prepared inviting Pauline Cooperators, parishioners and friends to an afternoon of Prayer and Reflection for the Feast of the Good Shepherd. Fr Michael Romeo, the parish priest of Our Lady Queen of Peace Payneham, was very supportive of the initiative and advertised the event at the parish Masses.

On Sunday 21 April, eighteen people gathered for the afternoon. Following the opening prayer and the proclamation of the Gospel of John 10:11-18, a reflection was offered to explore two main characteristics of the true Shepherd. Firstly, his goodness; a shepherd of noble heart who carries out his service with dignity, fidelity, and total concern for the wellbeing and safety of the sheep. Secondly, the true shepherd knows personally and intimately each sheep. There is a mutual relationship between the shepherd and the sheep.

 

The use of a PowerPoint on Psalm 23 and the story of the old pastor and the eloquent orator highlighted the difference between knowing the shepherd personally which is based on a deep personal relationship and knowing the psalm which is knowing the words but with the absence of a personal relationship.

 

Participants were then invited to spend half an hour in quiet prayerful time before the Blessed Sacrament. In regathering, participants were invited to share in twos, one point that had touched them. Some of the responses were: “The Good Shepherd desires to be in a relationship of friendship with me.” “He is always with me.”  “He desires and seeks my well-being.” “His goodness and nobility reassure me.”

 

The second reflection focused on the phrase repeated several times: the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Using the icon by Sieger Köder we saw how the Good Shepherd has taken our burdens upon himself. He knows our weaknesses. He constantly seeks to reassure us, saying, “Do not be afraid, I am with you.” While looking at the icon one, of the participants observed that there was only one set of footprints and this reminded several people of the poem Footprints on the Sand. One other participant, using his mobile phone, quickly found the poem and read it aloud for all to hear. Another point that was highlighted while reflecting on the icon was the fact that while there is an intimate relationship between shepherd and sheep, we belong to a community that is there waiting to welcome and rejoice with us.

 

The afternoon concluded with the hymn Be not Afraid by R. Dufford, and a shared afternoon tea, providing the opportunity of mingling and savouring the experience of sharing faith and presence, while being strengthened with the desire to share with others the goodness of the Good Shepherd.

Sr Rita Ruzzene, sjbp


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