The Supreme Good Shepherd
By Anne Marie Richardson
Today, the Church celebrates Good Shepherd Sunday, and the secular world celebrates Mother’s Day. As we journey through this season of Easter, I think it quite appropriate that, at this time, we encounter Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
Our Shepherd has taken care of us in an unbelievable and profound way by giving His life for us – just as a shepherd is prepared to do for his sheep. The shepherd is highly protective of his sheep; as much as is humanly possible, he allows no-one to harm them. He covers and shelters them; he feeds them and provides for them.
If one is lost, he is prepared to leave the others and search out that one stray and restore it to the fold (Mt. 18: 12–14).
Isn’t that what the shepherds of our Church are meant to do for us? Isn’t that what our priests – our clergy – are to do for us? Aren’t they to look after our spiritual, and at times our temporal welfare too, ensuring, as far as is humanly possible, that we, the sheep, are protected from the wolves of the world that are waiting “to steal, to kill and to destroy…”? (Jn 10:10).
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knowing the ways of the world – of the wolves in sheep’s clothing – had prayed for Simon thus, “Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and once you have recovered, you in your turn must strengthen your brothers” (Lk 22: 31–32).
In this call out to Simon Peter, Jesus was challenging him to fulfil the leadership role that Jesus knew was in line for him. As a good shepherd, he was meant to guard the gate to the sheepfold to secure the sheep for His Master.
Our homes are also meant to be that haven of comfort and security for our families, and especially for our children, just as the sheepfold is to the sheep. Our families should know that there is comfort and security once they enter therein; there may be harm or uncertainties outside, but they should feel secure in the knowledge that there is always comfort within their homes.
The loving and protective shepherdess waits to draw them within and to shelter them in her arms – as much as she is able – from the ills of the world. Yes, as we celebrate our mothers today, we recall the happy times, but sadly we recall the struggles and the desperation of today’s unfortunate circumstances with which so many are faced at one time or another.
On this Good Shepherd Sunday, we thank God for our Supreme Shepherd, Jesus Christ. We thank Him today for those living shepherds among us – those who have answered His call to minister to His flock; those who, from priest to pope, have chosen to answer the call to serve. We also thank God for our mothers who have even mothered those very same priests and religious and have encouraged and supported them as they answered their call to the religious life. Like Mary, they were always there.
As we look at the second reading from Apocalypse/Revelation (7:9, 14–17), we are assured that this protection is not solely for Good Shepherd Sunday or for Mother’s Day; God’s word shows us that He is eternal, the One “who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes”.
We all need the security of the Supreme Good Shepherd in our lives. Let us always look to Him for the strength and protection we desire, for apart from Him we can do nothing, John 15: 5. It is the fulfilment of the promise of Ezekiel 34:11–16, 30-31. To God be all glory!
The gospel meditations for May are by Anne Marie Richardson, a retired educator, and a parishioner of the Santa Rosa/Malabar cluster.