taking on the smell of sheep

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An Advent Journey with Pope Francis and Evangelii Gaudium, Part 8

Evangelizers thus take on the “smell of the sheep” and the sheep are willing to hear their voice. (Evangelii Gaudium, 24)

Pope Francis has already used this term to describe the role of priests. Here, he is using the term to describe the responsibility we all share,

An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. (EG, 22)

Again, Francis is preaching a major message of reform using the most simple of images. Can you think of a clearer way to describe the need to leave the four walls of the church and go out into the world? This image goes beyond the traditional one of dumb sheep obediently following their shepherd. The shepherds are to go out and BE with the sheep.

You cannot lead when you have allowed a chasm to form between you and those you serve. Dialogue cannot take place if you plant your feet firmly on mountains too high to hear or be heard. Compassion and healing require a physical presence and a physical touch.