One Flock, One Shepherd
Our readings this Sunday focus on the image of “shepherd”. It is a central image of the Scriptures and our Tradition. Has it become trite for us? Has it been sanitized? In reality, shepherding is a messy and difficult business. That fact became much clearer to me as I worked for two summers in college as a shearer, and as I watched shepherds at their work in Israel during a semester of theology. God’s great work in the world is to care for the people He has made. He wants us to find rest, be fed and healthy, and love one another. This is what can often slip between the cracks when we think about the Good Shepherd: GOD LOVES OTHER PEOPLE TOO. To think about God caring for oneself – shepherding just me – is easier to think about (on the surface). But to remember that God cares for all and calls all, this can chafe our spirit. What if we don’t like him? What if her ideas are terrible? What about the harm he’s caused?!? This Sunday and always we celebrate that, thanks be to God, all are called into Christ’s fold. We’re lucky really because that ‘all’ includes ‘me’.The readings this Sunday challenge us to remember again that God’s love is personal and universal. Jeremiah reminds us that God takes care of His People and their bad shepherds; Jesus shows us His concern for His disciples and even those who don’t believe in Him; Paul reminds his Jewish audience that the Kingdom is big enough for Gentiles as well. Who in our estimation should be excluded from the fold? In every time and place this is a real challenge in the Church and world.
Pope Francis beautifully spoke to this struggle to really speak to one another in love during this Easter season:
Obedience often brings us along a path that is not the one I think should be, but along another path. To obey is to have the courage to change paths when the Lord asks this of us. “The one who obeys has life eternal,” while for “the one who does not obey, the wrath of God remains upon him (Jn 3:36).”…the sign that reveals that a person does not know to dialogue, is not open to the voice of the Lord, to the signs that the Lord does among the people, is the fury and the desire to silence all those who preach in this case the newness of God, that is that Jesus is Risen…These are the same people that paid the guards at the sepulchre to say that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus. They did everything they could to not open themselves to the voice of God. May the Lord Jesus shepherd us into this way of Gospel life, the way of reconciling love. We may not always agree with each other, but God help us to love another as He commands.