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Fourth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

Reflecting on John 10:1-10

Several years ago, while traveling with a group of pilgrims into Bethlehem, our tour guide asked the bus driver to stop so that we could all flash our pictures of an extraordinary sight for all of us city dwellers: actual sheep, being herded by an actual shepherd!

Our guide then told us a very moving story.  When he came to Israel as a young man he was put in leadership over the small group of Christian churches in his particular denomination.  One of the elders of that group advised him that, before he ever tried leading anyone, he should intern as a shepherd for at least a week.  It was during that long week that he learned the tenderness of the shepherd in today’s psalm.

The good shepherd knows that sheep will drown in moving waters, and so leads them to still, restful waters.  In the dark valleys and steep mountains, the good shepherd calms the fears of the sheep by walking beside them, drawing them back from the cliff with his rod and staff.  At the end of the day, while the sheep rest in verdant pastures, he cleans the build-up of mucus out of their eyes with oil so that they don’t go blind.

Finally, at night, the good shepherd leads the sheep into the sheep gate, and then he sleeps outside the gate.  If any predators come looking for his sheep, they’ll have to get to them over his dead body.

Ah.  On this Good Shepherd Sunday, may you rest in the safety of the One who knows your voice, who knows your needs.  May goodness and kindness follow you all the days of your life.

In what ways do you feel tenderly cared for?

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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Easter - Cycle A

3 Comments to “Fourth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A”

  1. It’s in the moments of weeping that I feel tenderly cared for. Lately, I come to tears freely, for my own life and for the life of others. I’ve always been “sentimental,” but this is different. It’s about the profound suffering in life and watching the courage that helps people cope. How can I not then know that tender, providential care is wrapping us in love?

  2. I have a collection of “Good Shepherd” portraits hanging above my fireplace in the family room. In each, there is a black sheep — a brebis galeuse. The central portrait shows Jesus holding a black sheep in his arms.

    Those of us who don’t conform to the mores of our society are too often labeled with some unflattering adjective — curmudgeon, crabby, bitter, etc. ” so that those who disagree with our views can dismiss us more readily by using these labels and never face the real issues.

    I have to believe that Jesus tenderly cares for all his sheep, and possibly the outcast receive more of his attention — it’s His love that keeps me on track to defend moral values in a society that would much rather do whatever feels good and not have to think about right and wrong — good and evil.


  3. I have always loved the story of the Good Shepherd. Thanks for reminding us, Kathy…

    Recently, I wrote this for “Living Faith”:

    As a child, the first piece of scripture I ever memorized was Psalm 23. Those first five words – The Lord is my shepherd – are so engrained in my memory that I cannot imagine not knowing them. Growing up a city kid, I didn’t have many opportunities to see either sheep or shepherds, but I have known for a long time that I had a relationship with Christ like that of a sheep to its shepherd.

    Within that relationship resides the beauty of our faith. For our faith is not blind, nor is it a childish and irrational belief in something that cannot be seen. Our faith is alive and as real as a shepherd sitting on an ancient hillside, his hand resting on the napes of our necks and his eyes never resting as he scans the flock in search of danger. Our faith is about this kind and ever-loving shepherd who has claimed us for his own, knows us by name, and has, in fact, already sacrificed his life for our own.

    Steve Givens

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