"I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them." Jn 17:10
When Jesus prays for us in St John's gospel, he assures us that he will protect us but it is natural to ask: from what? Will he free us from all harm, anxiety and darkness? Surely, not. Then what does he mean that he will protect us.
In the scripture, the image of Shepherd says it well. Shepherds in the ancient world lay down at night at the opening of the sheepfold to keep out predators. If the sheep, however, kept escaping from the sheep pen, there was little the shepherd could do. After all, he had many sheep to watch over. That is why Jesus' insistence that he will seek us out when we are lost is so powerful. Not only will he watch over us, he will search for us even when we don't know we are lost. That is what it means to protect us. That we can still resist is not the point. That Jesus wants to be near us is.
Clearly, our task, if we want to have Jesus as a model is to protect others, sometimes from themselves, more often from foolishness. How we do this, especially with family and friends, will be the measure of our Gospel commitment. We cannot take care of others, but we can always care for them by letting them know we are near and ready to help when asked.
Today, ask for the gift of discernment that your care for others might be seen as loving, not manipulative.
Who has helped you most to be yourself and live the Gospel?