Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Meaning of One Fold, One Shepherd

My mom used to say that the Scripture verse “There shall be one fold and one shepherd” refers to the fact that all Christian denominations on earth will one day be unified under the leadership of Christ in the Catholic Church.  I’ve done much reading and research on the subject of Protestantism/Catholicism over the last several years and, while I sincerely wish that my mom’s prophecy would come true, I have come to believe that this verse has a different meaning.

There are many in the Protestant world that can be praised for their strong faith.  For example, I just finished reading the autobiography of Mariano Rivera, the famous and recently retired relief pitcher for the New York Yankees.   The book is titled “The Closer” and it is published by Back Bay Books.  Throughout the book, Mr. Rivera lets us know about his strong faith.  For example, he has this to say about prayer:

“Prayer is not like a vending machine, where you put in your quarters (or words) and then wait for the product to be delivered.  It’s not as if I can say to the Lord, ‘I pray for this World Series victory,’ or ‘I pray for a clean bill of health on my next checkup,’ and then just sit back and wait for Him to deliver it.  I very rarely pray for specific outcomes.  When my agent is negotiating a contract for me, I never get down on my hands and knees and ask the Lord to make me wealthy.  I don’t pray for a new car or a good MRI result, or a strikeout in a big spot.  For me, the most meaningful prayers are when I ask for God’s wisdom.”

While it was obvious throughout the book that his faith was Protestant, I was hoping that he would say in the end that he had converted to Catholicism.  This was not the case.  In the end, after retirement, he started his own church, another of the tens of thousands of Protestant denominations.  While I believe that the Catholic Church is the one true church founded by Jesus Christ and is the church that has the true message of salvation, I know that Christ makes the final judgement.

And, when Jesus said, “There shall be one fold and one shepherd,” I am convinced that He was talking about life in heaven, not on earth.  I don’t know what God thinks of the Protestant Reformation and the aftermath.  All I know is that there are many Catholics, but also many Protestants, who, in my mind, have a depth of faith worthy of the heavenly reward.  Exactly what we will see in heaven is yet to be determined.  Perhaps the sheep will have a variety of different colors. All I know is that there will be one fold and one shepherd there.

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