HE LIVES TO BE MY GOOD SHEPHERD
Every culture has the concept of an ideal citizen, someone who typifies its values. For much of the United States’ history, the ideal citizen was the American farmer: hardworking, innovative, vital to our collective well-being. Even some of our first presidents were farmers. For the people of Israel, the farmer wasn’t their ideal citizen. It was the shepherd. Sheep were an invaluable source of clothing and food. But they were hard to keep in the Judean countryside. Its sparse grasslands are intermixed with desert. For sheep, food is sparse, but predators are plenteous. The survival of sheep was dependent on their shepherd. There he is. Weather-beaten. Sleepless. Armed. In the dusk, he scans the land, counting his sheep, making sure they are all accounted for, every one of them on his heart. You see why Jesus chose the shepherd to illustrate how he cares for us. He feeds us with his Word. He protects us from that roaring lion, Satan. Jesus is leading us into the green pasture of eternal life. For centuries, the Church has observed this Fourth Sunday of Easter to celebrate that he lives to be our Good Shepherd.