EL BUEN PASTOR (The Good Shepherd)
Ninety-three sheep. Ninety-four sheep. Sleep tugged at the Good Shepherd’s eyelids. It had been a long day, but He could not rest until He knew that all one-hundred of His sheep were safe in the fold. Ninety-eight. Ninety-nine... and no more. The Good Shepherd hung His head and shook it a little. There was always one that strayed away. He grabbed His staff and headed back toward the green pastures He and His flock had just returned from. Walking beside the still water, He searched the area until He found a small ravine. Calling out, He heard a soft, muffled bleat. There, toward the bottom of the rocky wall stood a pile of boulders, and in between two of them a little hoof wiggled. Immediately He slid down the side of the ravine and began pulling the boulders away from the hoof. The muffled bleats grew louder as He grew closer. At last the little sheep was free and the Good Shepherd was able to check for any broken bones. There were none, only bruises.
“Oh little sheep,” He whispered, “Why must you always go your own way?” After helping it to its feet He scanned the edge of the ravine for a way out. Then He looked back down at His sheep. But it was gone. Sighing, He headed in the direction of the echoes of clicking hooves.
Thunder rumbled in the distance. Storms in the valley often resulted in flash floods. He quickened His pace.
Mud formed as rain began to pour. A watery bleat sounded somewhere up ahead. With renewed determination He slid through the mud toward the sound.
Flash floods had already begun to sweep through the narrow ravine, bringing with it large branches and heavy boulders. As lightning flashed the Good Shepherd caught sight of His sheep. The creature was trapped on a small ledge across the temporary river that had formed between them. It was caught underneath a tree limb. The Good Shepherd felt compassion for His sheep. He leapt to the other side of the ravine, just before another burst of the flood rushed through.
The sheep bleated in terror as He knelt beside it. At the sound of His calm voice, however, it calmed. Pulling away the tree limb, He surveyed the damage. Its two hind legs were bloody and broken, and it was soaked; but it was alive, and He loved it.
Hoisting His sheep up on His shoulders, the Good Shepherd cheerfully made His way back up the side of the ravine. As He reached level ground He began to run. Seeing His friend’s house ahead, the Good Shepherd ran up to it, banging on the door and crying: “Rejoice with Me, for I have found My sheep which was lost!” ” And again to another home and another friend until He had drawn a crowd, to which He repeated: “Rejoice with Me, for I have found My sheep which was lost!” And they did.