by Chris Banescu
A certain Orthodox parish was on her journey towards the Kingdom of Heaven, but on her way she fell among thieves, who chased away the good shepherd guarding her flock, stripped her of the fullness of life that she is called to represent and support, wounded her, scattered her sheep, and departed, leaving her half dead.
The sheep inside cried out pleading for help and mercy, yet their cries were ignored by the hirelings. Even when the sheep began to scatter the hireling shepherds did little to protect them, choosing instead to admonish the remaining sheep for continuing to cry out.
Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw her, he passed by on the other side. Again, another priest, a Dean, arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. Still hearing the sheep crying he quickened his step and went back to his own country denying ever having seen the wounds or heard the sheep’s cries of anguish.
Likewise a Bishop, hearing about her plight refused to even come down the road and neither helped nor comforted the sheep. He remained shuttered in his ivory tower denying she was wounded; choosing instead to admonish and demonize the sheep for crying too loud and disturbing his peace.
Years passed and the sheep continued suffering, crying, and pleading for mercy. Many continued to ask why is the parish still wounded and sitting by the side of the road and not moving towards the Kingdom of Heaven? Why has her fullness and mission been hindered while many of the shepherds and sheep are letting her wither away? Many wandered and left looking for love, mercy, and kindness on some other pastures.
Then another shepherd, a new Bishop, arrived at the place, came and looked, and seeing the parish in the ditch exclaimed “she’s healthy and doing fine.” He then passed by on the other side saying “there is no point in trying to stop it. Let her ‘evolve’ on her own. These sorrowful sheep are just bitter and difficult and need to find peace.”
“So which of these do you think was neighbor to her who fell among the thieves? Who showed mercy and God’s love?”
Many of the sheep remembered Christ’s teaching:
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew, 7:9-12)
The sheep tried in vain to ask for bread and fish, but instead received stones and serpents, as other sheep and shepherds rebuked them saying:
“The sheep have no right to cry out and ask for help, they are only dumb sheep.”
“The sheep have no business questioning their shepherds.”
“The sheep have lost their minds and have turned against their new shepherd and his boss.”
“It is God’s will that the parish should stay the way she is, how dare sheep question God’s will.”
“She (the parish) is really not wounded and half-dead, but only evolving.”
“The sheep are just bitter because they were hurt by the shepherds.”
“These sheep are not even members of this pasture since they have not paid their tribute, they have no right to speak.”
“Don’t even look in the ditch or cry out that she is in the ditch and wounded, because we are supposed to walk past and not get involved, that is Christian love.”
The question still remains. Where is the Good Samaritan? Where is the one (or many) who when they see her “had compassion,” and “will go to her and bandage her wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and will set her straight, take her to an inn, and take care of her. Then on the next day, when departing, take out many denarii, give them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of her; and whatever more you spend, when we come again, we will repay you.’ ”
The wounded parish is still in the ditch and many of those responsible for her well-being have walked by on the other side.
Meanwhile the crying sheep are still being scolded and admonished by other sheep and other shepherds who deny Christ’s clear teaching that WE must ACT to do God’s will (in addition to continually praying and seeking to follow Christ) and, contrary to Scripture, proclaim that all sheep are supposed to do nothing and wait for things to “evolve” on their own. Just faith without any works, almost a Protestant heresy of sorts!
The suffering parish remains by the side of the road and receives no help from the very shepherds whose sacramental duties require them to protect, help, and nurture her. The shepherds it seems are feverishly working to silence the sheep rather than rescue the flock and replant the pasture.
Many families of sheep forgave their tormentors and accepted their fate. This is the cross they have been asked to carry and they do so gladly to the glory of God. But these same sheep are still crying in the wilderness not for their own sake, but for the sake of the poor Orthodox parish still lying half-dead in the ditch and for other sheep who continue to wander and suffer in anguish and distress.
It is for these sheep that the banished sheep continue to weep and pray and hope to help. It is for these sheep that they continue to speak the truth and stand as witnesses to the tragedy continuing to unfold before their very eyes.
This is why these sheep continue to pray and ask: “Where is our Good Samaritan? Where is the love and mercy of the shepherds?”