Reflection – May 5th, 2024 – Sixth Sunday of Easter

Faithful Servants

After studying the readings for today I wondered how I could possibly say anything about love that has not already been said more eloquently by greater theological minds. I could have used many personal examples such as family and friends, or one of the many folks I encounter who consistently radiate joy, kindness and love. Lately though, my two dogs have been demanding a great deal of my energy, time and resources, so I am going to tell you about them and why I think dogs can teach us a valuable lesson about joy, faithfulness and unconditional love.

 A colleague recently said how much he liked the quote, “Be the person your dog thinks you are,” and I think this is an honourable goal to work towards. I have a Shepherd/Labrador mix named Murray who might be half as big as a house, and a white Valley Bulldog named Marilla who came from Kent County Animal Rescue. Marilla is deaf and never seems to quite meet my gaze when we look at one another.  

Murray and Marilla abide faithfully in me, and for non-human animals, they infiltrate nearly every aspect of my life. Recognizing the unconditional love of these two canines helps me feel accountable to them, and I want to respond with the same patience, joy, and love they enkindle within myself.

If I feed them late, the little beasts still love me, in fact they will not say a single word. If I leave them all day while working, they still greet me excitedly when I return home. If I leave them in sudden care of a stranger when on vacation, they greet me with unbridled joy when I return. They do not hold it against me by carrying a grudge. Their response is joy and love…and for a time, that is all there is and all that matters. When I take them to an empty beach and let them off their leashes, I see their pure happiness in a way that is fun to see. St. Francis of Assissi said we are to not only love animals, but “we have a higher mission —to be of service to them wherever they require it.” 

Every day I encounter the word love through music, books, articles, movies or television programs, but its meaning can still seem elusive or intangible. I hear it, I believe it, but how do I know its meaning? A wise priest I knew once said we should not begin with ourselves in our relationship, but with Jesus who abides in us. This example of canine friendship is an uncomplicated yet powerful way for me to imagine how Jesus abides in me, and what happens when I recognize this and respond to it.  

If I can make a strong connection with scripture using a real-life example not only should it help me to grow, but it should help me to reflect this to others and the world around me in concrete ways. I say should because I know I am not successful 100% of the time, but I continue practicing. The more love I give, the more there exists in the world and the more I receive. The more joy I allow myself to receive, the more I can contribute to the world around me. So I will strive to be the person my dogs think I am but also the person God knows me to be. Abiding in a loving relationship with our Creation can help us to move mountains, perform miracles, and transform the world…not because of us but because of the one who loved us first.

~Trevor Droesbeck


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