Scripture Readings: Acts 4.8-12; 1 John 3.1-2; John 10.11-18
“I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and mine know me, just as the Father know me and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep.” – John 10.14-15
Many of us live in close relationship with animals. We have met each others’ cats and heard their dogs on Zoom calls. What an amazing analogy in Sunday’s gospel that a shepherd’s’ relationships with their flocks is like Jesus’ relationship with his Father. My palomino quarter horse and I spent hours of my growing up years together. I still put myself to sleep at night remembering the roads and trails our rides together took us. Those rides opened the infinities of a prairie horizon and vast blue sky that connected me with God.
The scriptures of Israel frequently use shepherding as an image of God’s care for the people. God is the shepherd of Psalm 23. For early Christians and for us, the shepherd image expresses closeness with Jesus. Sunday’s gospel emphasizes the wholehearted love Jesus demonstrates in loving us unto death. Three times the short gospel passage repeats what makes a shepherd good–willingness to lay down one’s life for the sheep.
What appeals to you about the image of Jesus as the good shepherd? Who do you shepherd? For whom are you laying down your life?