Tuesday in the Second Week of Advent at Mississippi Abbey

This is unusual. Its different from the way most people would do things nowadays. Leave 99 team-players behind and seek one stray. What would prompt that course of action?

Maybe it’s the purpose for which each member of the flock was made. All have the same purpose and each has her own unique way of fulfilling that purpose. We each fulfill it by knowing and loving. Knowing and loving distinguish us from brute animals. They are capacities of those made in the image and likeness of God. The 99 know and love the end toward which the shepherd is leading them. One has lost her way. She knows and loves something else.  What she knows and loves is her end in life; it’s her perceived purpose, direction and meaning of her life. In truth, such purpose, etc. is determined by that which caused her to exist. Anything else is just something pleasant and currently in fashion. The shepherd wants to lead her to her cause and there she will find her purpose and pursue it by the power of the shepherd.

The stray will return to the flock by the power of the shepherd. That power will be what she shares with the flock and the flock shares with the shepherd. That power is a sense of importance. It is the importance of the kingdom of God. This importance is what she invests her knowing and loving…or rather it is what the flock invests their knowing and loving. That sense of importance-of the important-in-itself – is what unites a community. The important is at the end of the road the shepherd leads them on. Each follows with her own history of gifts and sensitivities. The personal importance of the gifts and sensitivities is relativized to the shared importance of the end.

In the monastery (and other communities wholly ordered to conversion) the thing that is converted is one’s sense of importance. It resides in the heart. We are called to be of “one heart and one mind.” (Acts 4f:32)

That must make us a community.