Living the Gospel – Fourth Sunday of Easter – April 22, 2018

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There is something about a picture of Jesus as the Good Shepherd that can bring a calmness to many of us.

Whether He is holding the lamb or carrying it on His shoulders, there is an intimacy that we can’t help but feel.

I must admit I know nothing about sheep! My guess is that few of us really know much about them. (There is much agriculture in the area, so maybe some of you DO understand sheep very well!)

In Jesus’ day, sheep raising was very common so calling Himself the “Good Shepherd” was an analogy easily understood by his followers.

Wanting to know a little more about the relationship between sheep and shepherd, I did a little research.

Sheep have no sense of locality. Outside the fold, they are helpless and bewildered. They must be guided by the shepherd to food, water, and back to the fold if they stray.

As they are led by the shepherd from field to field, the paths can be very narrow. They must trust the shepherd and follow him very closely or they could tumble off a cliff.

It goes without saying the sheep must be protected from bad weather, robbers, and wild beasts. The shepherd is always with his flock and may check on them many times a night. He knows and loves his flock.

For his part, many shepherds count their sheep upon return from the field, but many know their flock so well, they FEEL the absence of a sheep. They note the flock “is not quite right!” One shepherd in the Lebanon district was asked if he didn’t count his sheep each evening how would he know if all were present? He answered: “If you were to put a cloth over my eyes and brought me any sheep and only let me put my hands on his face, I could tell in a moment if it was mine or not!” The shepherd who is missing one of his flock will spend hours looking until he finds it.

Is it any wonder that Jesus described Himself as “The Good Shepherd” to His listeners? He wanted to provide for, protect, and lead each one of them. He KNEW them and wanted them to know Him in the most intimate way. “I know mine and mine know Me.” That is the relationship He wants with each and every one of us! And He wants to reach out beyond the immediate fold to those who do NOT know Him so that one day there will be one flock and ONE Shepherd.

Linda Caminiti