May 13 (Jn 10:1-10)

Heard of the “bystander” effect?

Well… the ‘bystander effect’ is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases, in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim, when other people are present.

This phenomenon is also called as ‘bystander apathy’.

According to the “bystander effect”, the probability of ‘help’ is inversely related to the number of bystanders (onlookers).

i.e. the greater the number of bystanders, the lesser will be the possibility of help that is offered.

The lesser the number of bystanders, the greater will be the possibility of help that is offered.

Such examples are commonly seen in our society…

·      If someone has an accident on the road and many people gather around, chances are that hardly anyone would take a step in assisting the injured person..

·      A cruel trend increasing these days is that when another is undergoing some mishap or disaster, there are many more people taking “selfies” or clicking pictures or busy uploading such “breaking” news on social networking sites, but totally unmoved to help the person in need…

Unfortunately, this “bystander effect” or “bystander apathy” has also dangerously encroached our spiritual lives…

An attitude of being “uncaring” and being concerned only of one’s selfish needs

An attitude of being “lethargic” and wanting to be free from taking up responsibilities

This has led to…

… “careless” tendencies in caring for our spiritual lives

… “irresponsible” avoiding of duties in taking care of others.

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who confronts this “bystander effect” in our lives.

He exhorts…

… to get involved in the lives of peoples and make a difference to them

… to be conscious of our own spiritual life and be zealous about it

Jesus speaks of being the Good Shepherd, who is close and intimate to the sheep.

>> It is this intimacy and closeness, that makes Him personally and affectionately concerned of His sheep.

The Lord also speaks of others, who are least interested in the welfare and safety of the sheep.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and robber” (Jn 10: 1) 

The difference in the attitude of the Good Shepherd and the thieves and robbers is this:

·      The Good Shepherd has a deep intimacy with the sheep… the others have no relationship!

·      The Good Shepherd is fully interested in the welfare of the sheep… the others only care for their personal agenda and benefits!

·      The Good Shepherd will undertake any sacrifice, even of His life for the sheep… the others will escape and run away from assuming any difficulties or hardships!

All of us in our lives are entrusted with “sheep” and we are to be shepherds to them…

>> This “sheep” could be anybody, based on our status and position in life.

They could be…

… parishioners, lay faithful

… students, work-colleagues, friends

… family members, spouses, children

… the needy, the wanting, those in distress

… our own selves

The question is:

In all such situations, of we being a “Shepherd”, am I afflicted with a “bystander effect” or a “bystander apathy” and fail to reach out to “our sheep”?

It is the Lord who has entrusted us with the “sheep” and He expects us to be good and faithful shepherds.

The responsibility is great… the duty is immense on us.

>> But do we get lethargic and indifferent, and fail in our duty to be a true shepherd?

Jesus, the Great Good Shepherd, is our model and example…

… Let us grow in intimacy of our “sheep”

… Let us become more concerned of the welfare of our “sheep”

… Let us be willing to take up any sacrifice for the good of our “sheep”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections”

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