Ecclesiastes 1:7
All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.

Reflection. Coincidence – per the dictionary – a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection. As a believer in Christ, in God. I do not believe that it is a “casual” connection. Rather, to me, it is a sign from above, that is, events, that happen to me, through the guidance of my everlasting Savior. Have you ever had things that happen to you in life that are just simply remarkable? Things that you just can’t simply understand? Things that you think are just – well, luck? Have you ever actually stopped to think however, as a true Christian, that God is reaching out to you, to pull you back into his arms, to bring you back to his flock? As I reflect, now on the passing of the fourth Sunday of Easter, The Sunday of the Good Shepherd, I remember the Gospel passage from John 10-11-18:

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. 12 The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and the sheep do not belong to him, abandons the sheep as soon as he sees a wolf coming, and runs away, and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep; 13 he runs away because he is only a hired man and has no concern for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep. 16 And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and I must lead these too. They too will listen to my voice, and there will be only one flock, one shepherd. 17 The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.18 No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will, and as I have power to lay it down, so I have power to take it up again; and this is the command I have received from my Father.

He not only speaks to us in His authority on this day as the Son of Man, and that he is truly Divine, but also that he is truly the Good Shepherd, always there for us, always there to protect us and welcome us back to His fold, His flock.  So where, might you ask, do I tie coincidence into all of this?

We can start with the old adage that many of us have heard, paraphrased in many different ways – “People come into our lives for a reason.”  I have stopped to reflect on this many times in my life and wonder why these people in my life have.  Some experiences have been wonderful, and some have been horrible.  Relationships go bad, and some are the best thing that have ever happened to us.  But through all of them we learn.  Through all of them, we create footnotes in our lives and create who we are.  Through all of this, it is apart of God’s ultimate plan of what the great Christian writer Matthew Kelley calls, “a better version of ourselves”.  Likewise, if we take events or circumstances in our lives that cannot be explained – coincidences – and reflect upon their true nature – have we ever stopped to think what God is trying to tell us?

Recently, on this past weekend of the Good Shepherd, I had a remarkable series of events.  I had a wake-up call of sorts to start off the weekend.  Some demons of past sin, of which I found myself extremely lucky and blessed.  Later the next day, I had the opportunity to discuss my love of the Church and theology, and my story of conversion with fellow Christians and converts, and then on Sunday during Mass experience the wonders of the Gospel reading above – and then – as I looked down at my phone to read my scripture “app” (I highly recommend getting one) – my daily reading read:

Proverbs 16:9 NABRE
The human heart plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.

I was also going through a period of transition in my life. Just getting back out there.  Going through the process of annulment,  Finding myself through relationships with wonderful people.  Having new experiences.  Exploring new job opportunities – but ultimately, and honestly, a bit chaotic.  The Lord had reminded me to slow down.  Breathe.  Come back to my arms.  I will take care of you.  It’s OK.  These things are not coincidence, my brothers and sisters in Christ.  These are God’s little messages to us.  These are God’s way of saying, “Come let me hold you in my arms, I will lead the way.  Let My Will guide you.   Let My strength and Love endure.”

Reflect on these occurrences. What is God trying to tell you?  Have you gone astray from His flock?  Are you right where you need to be? Are these occurrences there for the benefits of others?  Let them be footnotes in your life.  Let them be learning experiences.  Don’t mark them down as just happenstance.  They are messages from above.  Realize that they are, and treat them as such.  For His Love is everlasting, and His arms are always, always open.  God Bless!