The Relief Society Visiting Teaching Message for February is The Divine Mission of Jesus Christ: Good Shepherd. As I was preparing to visit my sisters, I thought about Christ going out after the lost sheep, leaving the ninety and nine behind. It occurred to me that Christ can only go out after the lone lamb if he has some confidence that the other ninety-nine are in safe pastures, a protected flock.
Sometimes we’ll be called to tag along with the Shepherd, to go through the wilderness on a mission of redemption, hoping to bring our little sibling lamb home. And sometimes, perhaps without even realizing it, we’ll be the lost ones. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him, the iniquity of us all.”
But I reckon that most of the time, we’ll be the sheep on the homefront. As members of the main flock, we’ll naturally clump up in little groups. Some of us ninety and nine will nestle down, secure in the center. Others of us claustrophobic types breathe better on the periphery. But we all are safe within the pasture, awaiting our Good Shepherd’s return.
As members of the ninety and nine, we have a special obligation to keep our pastures safe and welcoming for all sheep, even the bedraggled, broken ones pulled in off of the moor. We have to protect and love each other, so we cold shoulder anyone out of the pasture. And as one of my sisters pointed out, we have an obligation to be vigilant against the wolf in sheep’s clothing, who would decimate the most innocent and vulnerable among us.