The Lord is My Rudder
In the beginning of World War II the Nazis commissioned a massive battleship named the Bismarck. It was the biggest fighting vessel the world had seen up to that time. With the Bismarck the Germans had the opportunity to dominate the seas. Very soon after the commissioning the Bismarck sank tons of Allied shipping and allied aircraft. Its massive armor plating resulted in the boast that the Bismarck was unsinkable.
But the Bismarck was sunk. And it was sunk due to one lone torpedo. A torpedo hit the Bismarck in the rudder. As a result the battleship zig zagged through the sea, unable to set course for the safety of a German harbor. It was only a short while before the British navy was able to overtake and destroy it.
No matter how large the battleship may be, it is doomed without a rudder to direct it. Floundering on the waters of chaos without a rudder, the Bismarck is a modern day image of a world without the direction of Jesus. Without the Lord, the world is headed toward chaos. But with the Lord there is guidance, and direction and purpose to life.
The readings for today don't speak about battleships, they speak about sheep. But the image is the same. Just as the shepherd gives direction and protection to the sheep, the Lord gives direction and protection to his people.
Whether we are mighty like the Bismarck or weak like a lamb, we rely on the Lord to get us through the crises and traumas that we will inevitable have to face throughout life.
During this time of year, we, as well as many other parishes, are preparing for the First Holy Communion of our little ones. What chances do our children have to survive in the world? There are people out to take advantage of them in every way possible. Morality has declined to the point that it is considered immoral to attempt to defend your children from perversities such as teaching them that alternate lifestyles are acceptable. By 8 years old, if not earlier, they need to know how to protect themselves from sexual attack be it by adults or their own classmates. If the question of drinking and drugs is not discussed over and over again by fifth grade, the children will have a difficult time surviving the gamut of their education unscathed. Their morality is attacked on every front, classmates, teachers, playmates. Without Christ, they and we their loving adults will flounder through life. With Christ, they can get the rough the storm and the chaos.
This is true for all of us. Life is too difficult to attempt to make it through safely alone. We need direction. We need protection. We need Jesus Christ. We call ourselves Christians because we are followers of the Lord, but we are also Christians because the Lord follows after us, helping us to get into line, protecting us from the elements of life that would destroy us.
The problem that we all have, whether we are sheep or battleships, is that we think that we are invincible. This is not true. Rugged individualism notwithstanding, there is no such creature as a self-made man....or woman. We are dependent upon the Lord. That's why we pray every day. That's why we come to Church every week. That's why we receive the Eucharist. His is the strength that gives meaning, purpose and direction to our lives. He is the sheepgate who protects us. He is the shepherd who leads us.