Living the Gospel – April 25, 2021

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The Lord Is My Shepherd

One of my favorite writers is Jennifer Hubbard of Newtown, Connecticut. Jennifer is a writer for the periodical, Magnificat; she is also the mother of Catherine Violet, a 6-year-old victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in December of 2012. Her writing reflects her loss, as well as the strength of her faith which has sustained her and her family over the past years. The following is her reflection for Good Shepherd Sunday:

I gasped when I reached the top of the hill. The sheep and their lambs had gathered at a patch of greening grass and were splayed across the flat of the rocks, soaking up the warmth of the sun in a backyard turned pasture. It was an unusual place and an unlikely way to discover the little one I was desperately missing.

There was just something about lambs that always reminded me of Catherine. That was the reason for the image on her funeral card: Catherine was the bleating lamb Jesus tucked in the fold of his arm. This was also the image etched in her grave’s footstone by the bookend dates of her life. And it was the reason we chose Psalm 23 for her funeral Mass: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I lack.” At the time, I thought the words were intended for Catherine. And then I was led to that hilltop, where I realized that those words are promises also made for me.

We, she and I, are his lambs. The wolves will howl, and the lion will lurk, and the Good Shepherd stands guard. I shall not fear. The path will be treacherous and the way obstructed, but the Good Shepherd, with rod and staff in hand, leads. I shall not wander. My heart will bleed with sadness and longing, yet the Good Shepherd prepares a table before my eyes – even in the most unlikely of places.

For it was on that day that I finally realized it: the Lord is my Shepherd: I shall not want.

Jennifer and her husband, Matt, have created “The Catherine Violet Hubbard” Animal Sanctuary in their daughter’s memory. Catherine loved animals and would hold small insects or creatures in her hand and say “tell your friends that I am kind.” The mission of the sanctuary is to enrich the lives of all beings by promoting compassion and acceptance. By honoring the bond between animals, humans, and the environment, they are creating a kinder and gentler world for all. You can visit the website at cvhfoundation.org.

Sylvia Bates