Imagining the Gospel: The Good Shepherd

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“Imagining the Gospel Scene” is a series from the Jesuit Media Lab. On occasional Sundays throughout this liturgical year, creators in the JML community will respond to the day’s Gospel passage through the practice of Ignatian contemplation, or what is sometimes called “imaginative prayer.”

In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola invites participants to place ourselves in Gospel scenes using the imagination, relying on our senses to develop a distinctive, personal perspective on a given story — and thereby getting to know Christ better. After praying with the Gospel using their imaginations, our contributors will create a piece of art flowing from their experience — a painting, poem, short story, song, photograph or work in another medium.

Today’s installment are the poems “Harried” and “Herded” by Mia Schilling Grogan.

Fourth Sunday of Easter: April 21, 2024
John 10:11-18

I. Harried
after Donne

“A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. (John 10: 12)

Harry my head, fang-toothed Fear, for you
as yet but run me breathless, aim to end
me cornered here, bleating. Unflocked, unpenned,
misled by one who mimics my own true
Shepherd, and netted now in thickets through
which nothing passes, I spy the opened
gate, but cannot heed the voice that would mend
all wounds — until you’re spent. Then I will subdue
and quiet the mind that courts misfortune.
I will welcome rain as if sent by my
Tender, not as trial, but as balm to soften
branches; they bend and yield. Piping high,
my Keeper’s call: Come and follow me.
Fear, your worst unleashed, but sets me free. 

II. Herded
after Herbert

“I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16)

Our Keeper called us. Yet we all held back,
                        troubled by fence and stone.
Still, one-hearted Love, knowing of our lack —
                        days of rank division
from each other – inched nearer, inquiring
                        if we yearned for something.

Green fields, we sighed, nearby streams fresh and clear.
                        Love replied, look and see!
We saw rock-riven pasture, wind-swept, drear;
                        on this we could agree.
The Shepherd crooked us in, held us close by,
                        our oneness to supply,

and yet we wrangled: who best bears your name,
                        obeys with least reserve,
flocks most meetly? For such discord, blame
                        raveners.  And observe:
Come follow me, the Shepherd will repeat
                        until our herd’s complete.

  Artwork: “Good Shepherd,” Russian icon, public domain