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Caring for "BJ"

Many, many years ago, I worked in a small computer outfit run by a couple who loved dogs and cats. The two cats they left in their house but the dog they brought to their office everyday where they could keep a constant eye on it.

The couple loved their dog "BJ" very much. I clearly saw that. They fed their dog only expensive commercial dog food. When it got sick they brought it to the veterinary clinic nearby. They even bought it health insurance. They petted it all the time.

Once my female boss asked another employee of theirs to walk the dog to the park nearby to go to the bathroom, but when the boss, looking from the window, saw the dog almost hit by a car while they were crossing the street, he got a severe tongue lashing from her and he almost got fired or resigned.

My bosses loved their dog BJ very much. But I wondered why they treated their employee less humanely than their dog.

I thought to myself: The difference between a human being and an animal is so great that the man deserved at least a little more respect than her dog, however much she loved the animal.

In today's Gospel reading, Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd, like one who loves His sheep so much that he is willing to lay down his life for them if they are attacked by wolves and thieves.

But why would a shepherd be willing to give up his own life just to save some or all of his sheep? The difference between the value or nature of a sheep and that of a human being is so great that it would be unthinkable and foolish for a man to surrender his human life for an animal, however cute or lovable it may be.

But the difference between man and God is so huge, such that if the difference in nature between a man and an animal can be quantified and multiplied by a very huge number, that would still not adequately describe the infinite difference between the infinite God and a finite human being.

So why should God even care about man, a mere creature of His, as to take on the inferior human nature and die for him?

But that was exactly what happened when God the Father sent His Son to take on our human nature in the person of Jesus Christ about 2000 years ago to live on this earth, suffer and die on the cross to save us from our sins. And not only that … He wanted to bring us to his eternal dwelling place, to be home with him for all eternity.

The evangelist John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, was so ecstatic about this mystery of God’s loving plan for us that he exclaims: “See what the Father has bestowed on us, that we may be called the children of God.” And to assure us about the truth of this fact, he stresses: “Yet so we are.” (1 John 3:1-2)

I wonder if my former boss, who loved her dog BJ so much, would have been willing to take on the form and nature of a dog like BJ so that she could protect it better and prove her love for her dog in that hugely self-effacing way.

Jesus, God the Son, did it for us. That is incomprehensible to us. But it happened.

We should be extremely thankful. And we should love Him back . . . with all the love that we can possibly muster. #

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