A Gospel Reflection
by Deacon Kevin Heim
Monday, May 4th
4th Week of Easter
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”
Sheep! Hardly how I look at myself, and yet that is what I am.
Sheep really are not the cute, woolly critters they are made out to be - at least not after six weeks from birth. Just ask the kid whose job it was to feed them and water them. They have no problem knocking you down and running over you. One will keep you busy, while another will sneak up and in stereotypical goat behavior give you a butt to remember. They wander off and about, seeking ever greener pasture, leaving near bare ground behind. Yet, when it suits them, they will follow one another to the ends of their pasture. It takes a dedicated shepherd to put up with them.
And in their behavior, I see my own. Whether seeking the latest, greatest or the best, trying to be first in line, or even playing pranks the behavior could be termed sheepish. Unlike the sheep, I have been able to change (although a prank now and then keeps one young). From following the sheep to following the shepherd – a bell-wearer (bellwether – the word for the day). From going hither and yon, to trying to keep up with the Shepherd – knowing he will always be near. Yes, I can be happy to be known as a sheep.
Lord, We are Your people, the sheep of Your flock. Heal the sheep who are wounded, Touch the sheep who are in pain, Clean the sheep who are soiled, Warm the lambs who are cold. Help us to know the Father's love through Jesus the Shepherd and through His Spirit. Help us to lift up that love, and show it all over this land. Help us to build love on justice and justice on love. Help us to believe mightily, hope joyfully, love Divinely. Renew us that we may renew the face of the earth.