Good Shepherd Sunday

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In agricultural communities of ancient times shepherds had great responsibility. Most of the members of those families had much of their wealth in their flock. They were food, and protection from the elements and a means of income. Protection of those animals was protection of their livelihood  When Jesus spoke “I am the good shepherd” the members of that community could easily understand what a good shepherd did. That shepherd brought the herd to green pasture to feed and to clean water to drink. The shepherd protected those sheep from wandering into danger, protected their flock from predators, and tended to their wounds. The image of the Shepherd as a guardian over a flock of people was not something Jesus created himself. That image was used as a way of many emperors of the East to describe the duties of a emperor, king, or pharaoh.Many of these leaders though were not images of a good shepherd as their concern was for their welfare and not of their flock. In imagining what a “good shepherd”  did for the welfare of a flock, it is easy to see what a “bad shepherd” does for the betterment of themselves at the expense of that flock.The bad shepherds feared this good shepherds birth at the nativity.The good shepherds mentioned at that nativity were the humble shepherds that listened to the voice of an angel in announcing Jesus’s birth.Those shepherds, the first mentioned in the gospel, were the first to join the flock of Christians.That bad shepherd Herod slaughtered the innocent, while those humble shepherds of sheep rejoiced at the announcement of a savior.Jesus is called many titles: Christ the King, the Lamb of God,the Light of the world,the alpha and the omega,the bread of life,Son of God, Son of Man, Prince of Peace.His image as the Good Shepherd is an easy one to understand as a shepherd moving from place to place with his flock is a common occurrence even in today’s industrialized society.  In that human image of God, God is portrayed as a caring God guiding us to a fruitful and rewarding life, and that is a contrast to a God of vengeance or indifference. That role of the Good Shepherd too serves as guidance to the shepherds of society to remind them of that obligation to their flock, a service that is so often forgotten.It is the contrast of leaders that provide wise guidance versus those who dictate commands as a show of strength.

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