Why is the shepherd good?

| Deacon Steven Wirth | April 13, 2016 | 0 Comments

Jesus_Lamb

Since the readings for the fourth Sunday of Easter are always on the theme of the “Good Shepherd,” this Sunday is sometimes referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday.

The Good Shepherd is certainly one of our favorite images for Jesus. It is one that we enjoy teaching to our children. It was a favorite of the early Church as well. Indeed, the image of the Good Shepherd shows up in some of the earliest Christian art that we have discovered.

But what makes the shepherd “good”?

We know that the Good Shepherd feeds us and takes care of us, just as our psalm this Sunday says “his we are; his people, the flock he tends.” We also often think of the Good Shepherd as kind and loving. Think of all the images you have seen of Jesus tenderly gathering the sheep, or carrying the lost sheep on his shoulders. Our psalm confirms this: “The Lord is good: his kindness endures forever.”

Our first and second readings give us another reason why we call the shepherd “good.” In our first reading, Paul and Barnabas are preaching the word of the Lord not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles. In the second reading, John has a vision of the great multitude, “from every nation, race, people and tongue.” In both readings we see that the flock of the Good Shepherd is not just some exclusive club, but is indeed open to all.

One more reason that the shepherd is good is the simple fact that the shepherd is good at his job. A shepherd is responsible for protecting the sheep from all who would steal them. And what does Jesus say in our Gospel? “No one can take them out of my hand.” We can all imagine a kind, sweet, but careless shepherd who occasionally loses a lamb. But this is not Jesus. He will not lose a single one of his sheep. He is a “good” shepherd because there is nothing that can steal or wrestle even a single lamb from his flock.

As we encounter in this life struggles, difficulties and sins that threaten to take away that life within us, let us take security in the flock of the Good Shepherd who will never fail to protect us and bring us to eternal life.

Deacon Wirth is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity for the Diocese of Fargo. His teaching parishes are St. Michael in St. Michael and St. Albert in Albertville. His home parish is St. Mary in Munich, North Dakota.


Sunday, April 17
Fourth Sunday of Easter

Readings

  • Acts 13:14, 43-52
  • Rev 7:9, 14b-17
  • Jn 10:27-30

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Category: Sunday Scriptures