“Smell Like Sheep”
The Holy Father writes, that a faith community is one “who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice. (please note the St. Catherine word this year, “joy.”) “…the Lord has taken the initiative, he has love us first and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. Such a community has endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of its own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy.”
A faith community “gets involved by words and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distance…it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others.”
A faith community “is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way.” There is no stranger in a faith community, there is only a fellow traveler with a different story to tell than your own.
Here’s my new Pope’s phrase that I now love. A faith community “take on ‘the smell of sheep’ and the sheep are willing to hear their voice.”
Sheep smelling is not one of my strengths No seminary class was offered to me. (I would have tested out!) It may not be their smell but it’s the look in their eyes. I guess it traditionally means to help bear one another burdens. That doesn’t mean to solve or take away another’s woes and concerns. Many times it’s a listening ear, a caring eye, a silent tongue, an open heart attempting to “smell” what another presently “smells” like.
It may not be a comfortable image for us folks but the imagery “smells” right to me. “This just doesn’t smell right” or “Your dinner smells delicious.” Both statements are full of potency. One of need the other of gratitude.
We are a faith community. How hurridely we return to our cars. How uncomfortable we are introducing ourselves to the person seated next to us during the Masses’ duration. A handshake only does it? Could you “smell” the other’s concerns, both in the person’s joys and doubts?
Let’s try to “smell” one another on a deeper level. It’s not found in the armpits, it is living in the heart and soul.