Stanley Rother grew up in Oklahoma, a hearty farm kid who knew the value of hard, manual labor. He wanted to become a priest.
Seminary, where most of his classes were taught in Latin, proved difficult, and his first attempt ended in failure. But when he returned to seminary in a more rural location, he was finally ordained and eventually served as a missionary in Guatemala.
There he flourished, excelling in the local language, Tz’utujil, where the previously Latin-strained Rother even developed a written version of the language. He built a radio station, opened a co-op for weavers, staffed a medical center, farmed, prayed, and lived alongside his peasant flock with zeal. He was beloved.
Escalating political tensions in the country made it very dangerous, especially for religious. Before long, Rother was placed on a “hate list,” “number 8” he told his sister.
In his Christmas letter of 1980, he wrote, “The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger.” When a credible death threat followed a month later, he fled to Oklahoma, but remembering his flock, he returned to Guatemala only a week later. He was murdered by a death squad on July 28, 1981.
When it comes to the Good Shepherd reading of Saint John’s Gospel (10:11-18), I naturally think of how Jesus is Shepherd to me—protective, faithful, going to any length to save me. But I also want to be mindful of the ways that Jesus calls me to be like Him—a shepherd to my own little flock, maybe family and friends, colleagues or neighbors. Sometimes the sacrifices of these duties scare me, and I want to run away. But I can return.
I may never be called to offer my life as Blessed Stanley did, but I am called to be faithful, protective, and brave on behalf of the flock entrusted to me by my Shepherd.
Let’s ask the Lord together: is there some area of my life where He is calling me to be more courageous, to take more risks, to go to greater lengths on behalf of another soul? Speak to Him about this. Then listen.I am called to be faithful, protective, and brave. // Liz Kelly Click To Tweet
Lord, help me listen with my whole heart to You.
Thank you for being here.
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