Father Fred’s dog died.
Father told us what happened this week to his dog, Annie, his constant companion of twelve and a half years.
She had not been well. He took her to the vet this week and received the awful news that she was not going to get better and it was best that she be euthanized.
It’s okay to do that to dogs. Not humans.
He confessed to the veterinarian, whom he had never met, that Annie’s illness was difficult for him to handle. While they talked, he told her that he was a priest. She told him that she, too, was Catholic.
The vet asked Father Fred if he wanted to pray.
She sought to comfort him. A total role reversal for him.
Today’s Gospel was John 10:11-18.
“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – John 10:11
Father Fred’s homily reminded me of the day Kit Kat died.
Kit Kat was, as my daughter Martha called him, my first baby. He was the first cat that I ever had. He was a stray — a feral cat — who sort of adopted us when we lived in The Blue House (our kids identified our homes by the color of the house).
He was getting older and we knew he was frail. One weekend, I think it was October of 2010, we spent the night in Madison because Martha was competing in the collegiate tennis conference tournament up there during her senior year.
When we came home from Madison, we found Kit Kat dead. He apparently was walking from our bedroom into the hallway when he drew his final breath.
The anguish was overwhelming. My sorrow lasted for months. I don’t deal well with pet deaths.
That’s a story for another day.
Those memories came flooding back as Father Fred told his story about being shepherded by the vet, one of our deacons, Joe Casey, Joe’s wife, Mary, and our youth minister, Tracy Rapp.
I thought about how Jesus, the Good Shepherd, comforted and shepherded me.
I thought about the powerful image I had of Jesus, walking along a lush, green riverbank, with my little buddy Kit Kat. I saw a healthy, vibrant little calico cat, walking calmly and peacefully alongside our Good Shepherd.
And that comforted me.
We all have moments when we need comfort, when we need a guiding hand, a warm embrace, just some understanding.
Who do you turn to for comfort?
Is it Jesus?
Can you recall times in your life when Jesus has appeared at your side, perhaps in your thoughts or during prayer time, perhaps in the form of a fellow, caring human being?
Can you recall times when someone else has needed you to reach out to them for comfort. With a good word, maybe just a smile? Or a well-timed hug?
I think of Dad’s illness and the times when I knew Jesus was at my side… was at Dad’s side. The anguish that Mom felt, my sisters, Uncle Stan…
… the comfort I received — that we all received — from so many people as we walked that journey.
And how we shepherded one another, too.
Father Fred told us today how easy it was to be the good shepherd to a fellow human.
All it takes sometimes is just a nice word. Or a nice smile.
Jesus told St. Faustina that he demands from all of us deeds of mercy, that we are not to shrink or absolve ourselves from it. That we can show mercy to others by deed, word, or prayer.
It’s actually not difficult.
Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.