Does A Good Shepherd Break The Legs of Wandering Sheep?

Recently, a friend told me he did some research on how shepherds teach their sheep to stop wandering away.  He read that shepherds break the legs of the straying sheep.  During the healing process, the sheep stays very close to the shepherd and in this way learns to recognize the shepherd’s voice and not roam again.

Now, my friend is a very smart man.  When it comes to the spiritual life, I sit up and take notice of what he says, especially when he’s preaching from the pulpit.  He’s no slouch when it comes to the Catholic faith.  But, like doubting Thomas, I needed to see it for myself.

I did my own Google search and found two different opinions.  Some sites said that a good shepherd would never break the legs of wayward sheep.  Other sites verified what my friend said.  Some sites that had a religious theme expressed disbelief that God would be so awful as to “break our legs” to “force” us to blindly stay with him.  Other sites said that God does this all the time by way of suffering and hardship.

Hmmm………….I figured I had to look further to find the answer.

Sticking with the “keep it simple, stupid” principle, I turned to a saint who lived and wrote very simply:  my patron saint, St. Therese of Lisieux.   More specifically, I looked up something taken from her writings that I had scribbled into a  blank page at the front  of my Breviary.

“Everything is a direct effect of our Father’s love…difficulties, contradictions, humiliations, all the soul’s miseries, her burdens……her needs…..everything, because through them she learns humility and realizes her weakness.  Everything is grace because everything is God’s gift.  Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events….to the heart that loves, all is well.”

St. Therese certainly had her share of trials and suffering but through everything she never lost sight of God, never wandered away.  Through all her difficulties and burdens, she listened to His voice and learned to love more and more.  Did God break her legs, so to speak?  I guess you could say that, although she could have chosen to listen to His voice or she could have chosen to turn away.  I’m sure that even an actual sheep that has its legs broken could go off again once its legs healed.

So, where am I going with this?

I think God allows humiliations, contradictions, suffering in our life, but He gives us the grace to bear them.  He also gives us free will.   It’s up to me how I respond to the burdens He sends.

Do I respond by praying for more and more grace so that I can accept trials with humility and love or do I turn my back on God and go my own way?  Do I recognize my weakness and realize that I am nothing without God or do I believe I’m in control?  Do I stay close to the shepherd or do I continue to roam?

St. Augustine said,  “God who made you without your help cannot save you without your help.”  The choice is up to me.

Deo Gratias

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26 Responses to Does A Good Shepherd Break The Legs of Wandering Sheep?

  1. SR says:

    This is really good and so much here to reflect on. I do believe in redemptive suffering which I guess in a sense is a “breaking of the legs.” Do I like it? No! At times it is a must for the soul to enter into heaven. Good post and God Bless, SR

  2. dgcree says:

    Excellent meditation, very thought provoking ! – Thanks

  3. Mary Frances says:

    Speaking as a sheep whose legs have been broken because I was a wayward sheep. And never knew why all these supposedly bad things were happening to me, so I thought. I had been telling one of my girlfriends that God broke both my legs to slow me down to get my attention. I have had surgery on both my legs from years ago. And I had never heard about the breaking of the leg, or in my case legs, until here recently, like the last two months. I said to her, I had a plan for my life, but one day God slowed me down and introduced me to His Plan. And WOW! what a plan it is. Yes He did it to get my attention, because in my life I have learned from the Shepherd,He has always had a purpose for me and, I was missing it. But He has been carrying me and all I can say is WOW! THANK YOU JESUS, I never thought I would Know Him the way I do now. Broken legs, along with all my other LOVE lessons.
    God has me right where He wants me. I can now say to all these things, they were ALL for my good, but for HIS GLORY!!!! Now the statement I am making is, GOD slowed me down to creep speed, but at least I’m creeping. And everyday in HIS presence is sweeter than the day before, and that is from a purified heart. I pray that this blessess someone out there, and I pray to HIM everyday to DRAW ME NEARER to the CROSS. Because it is a beautiful, wonderful, marvelous place to be. I can say most assuredly, My Joy is FULL.. Be Encouraged

  4. Mary Frances, thank you for your honesty and for sharing your story. May you continue to creep closer to the Cross.

  5. It is so hard to accept trials with humility and love and pray for grace. Thank you for a lot to think about!

  6. mummymishy says:

    Wow, you’ve really gotten me to sit up and think. Not sure what my thoughts are on this, but I do believe that we are being watched over and guided, like children and sometimes – like children – we are put in the ‘naughty spot’. It gives us time to think, redirect and grow. I would like to think of G-d as an entity that guides gently, without having to ‘break legs’ though.

    When I was taking my first child for her first vaccinations, my sister put it so clearly to me. She explained that my baby would look at me like I was betraying her. She’d be horrified that I – her mother, who was supposed to protect her – would be holding her down and subjecting her to this monster sticking a needle in her leg. That no matter how hard she cried or pleaded for me to help her, I’d let the needle poke her. This is our relationship with G-d. We are children and we don’t always understand why ‘bad’ things are happening to us (or that maybe they are actually good things in disguise, like the vaccination) but we do need to trust that we ARE being protected and that we are loved.

    Thank you for a really thought-provoking post!

  7. AHH yes the love of God that pierces and cuts out the rotten ramifications of sin and the affects of simply being born of Adam and Eve. Spiritual transformation is not always fun.Some times I ask Him to operate on me while I sleep because I need the oblivion of sleep to relax and surrender all that is not of the Holy Spirit . Sometimes it feels like He is changing every cell in my body with his burning light. ‘No longer I that lives but Christ that lives in me” and, through me, around me.

    It is really good that God has a sense of humour about it all and somehow He has gifted me with the ability to luagh and even experience joy through it all. Love your blo by the way. it has a joyful light feel to it.

    I have only been writing for 8 months (took 30 year sabbatical to raise 9 kids as you know) I am delighted to see all the Catholic sites and directories here, I have mainly posted on secular sites. i am going to track them down
    love and prayers,
    melanie (motherofnine9)

  8. vftmom247 says:

    Really good! Thank you for the St. Therése about-out and the reminder that our trials are there for a very good reason – to increase our dependency on God.

  9. Beautiful! As one who’s legs have been broken…love this!

  10. jalal michael sabbagh.http://gravatar.com/jmsabbagh86@gmail.com says:

    Awesome new year.Thank you for the visit.post.Merry Christmas and joyous .Jalal

  11. jalal michael sabbagh.http://gravatar.com/jmsabbagh86@gmail.com says:

    Spiritually powerful post.The good shepherd would lay down his life for his followers like Christ did .Thank you for liking my post (Connecticut..)Merry Christmas and have a wonderful new year.jalal

  12. cc70458 says:

    Good post. Very thought provoking – and I think personally that it is a hard question to answer, in my case I expect he broke mine as a last resort since I failed to heed his warnings and it was the only way remaining to save my soul. Not to be vindictive or cruel, but to be merciful and prevent me from irreparably harming my soul.

  13. jalal michael sabbagh.http://gravatar.com/jmsabbagh86@gmail.com says:

    Superb post Thank you for liking my post (Women…) blessings and regards.jalal

  14. Vic says:

    We all need to be encouraged that, in the midst of out trials and tribulations, our lives have
    dignity and purpose. We desperately need that validation in times of suffering and hardship. We must not lose heart. God is forming us into a vessel of honor, to be a blessing and of great comfort and encouragement to others. We must continually encourage each other of these things. In the midst of his pain, Job was still able to say “After He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold”.
    And the best part of all is that He’s with us every step of the way.

  15. juanrbalboa says:

    Thank you! I find St. Therese seems to be leaving little flowers along the path that help lead me to Christ. It’s no coincidence that I found fellowship first in one Church with St. Therese as its patron, and then another.
    Thanks!

  16. quinersdiner says:

    A beautiful reflection. I am immersed in the subject of “grace,” so your post was timely. Thank-you!

  17. This is quite a lovely post. Rich in point, and something I will ponder for the next few days. Thank you so much.

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