April 22, 2018 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

Our gospel reading today is the favorite of many of Jesus’ disciples. This good shepherd knows his sheep, and they know him. The life of a shepherd can be difficult. It isn’t as glamorous as we might think. In Jesus’ day the job of a shepherd was lonely, harsh, and dangerous. If the sheep were attacked, whether by animal or human, the shepherd had to be ready to lay down his life for his sheep.
Jesus, of course, isn’t talking about real sheep-herding. He is talking about his relationship to his people, that intimate personal bond that Jesus has for his followers—for us. He did lay down his life for us. We know about that close bond between sheep and shepherd. In Scripture, to know is to love. The shepherd loves his sheep and they love him. Jesus and his people are united by mutual love. Our model for this is the relationship between the Father and Jesus his Son. It was this bond that enabled Jesus to lay down his life for us.
Hired hands on the contrary are different. They care for the sheep out of self-interest, so when there is danger they run away. It’s just a job, a way of earning money. These shepherds look out for themselves rather than the sheep. Jesus wants us to be honest in how we care for our families, our neighbors, all of his people, but especially for those most exploited, the weakest. If we want to be called children of God, then we must truly care for these and truly be persons who know and love Jesus.
This is what the imitation of Jesus is all about. We are shepherds of our brothers and sisters. If we are children of God, then we must act like children of God. Last Sunday we were asked to be God’s witnesses. Now we are to take that one step further. We are to courageously and generously care for our needy brothers and sisters. We are to speak up in love and against injustice.

Comments are closed.