Today Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd, and first did so to a people familiar with sheep and shepherds. And assuming none of us are, I’d like to begin by acknowledging that however comfortable you and I are with this parable of following a good shepherd, it isn’t a sweet parable.
It isn’t about abiding in vague sweet-grassy meadows.
It’s a message of hope, yes, but not a sentimental hope.
For starters, we’re the sheep in this parable, numbered among those the wolves run off with or among those the hired hands abandon. Any child reading this would know it for a scary story.
Like all parables, the hope it offers means to challenge the way you live, and means also to nourish you, and thereby nourish your relationship with God and with other people. In fact, I would say this parable is, fundamentally, about relationships, about turning the herd of all people toward God.
I think here of a roadside mystery some of you may have seen: a whole herd of cows standing in a field all facing the same direction, their faces to the wind, looking an awful lot like a cow regatta, as if all the cows in all the world momentarily stopped cowing around and became aware of something beyond them.Read more