This Sunday is typically called Good Shepherd Sunday, and as I was thinking about the readings and our reflection on the readings today, I remembered a story that perhaps I’ve told before, I don’t remember that, but it’s maybe true, maybe not. Remember back in the days when we had confirmation in the parishes and the bishop would come and the children, and at that point they used to be nine, ten, eleven years old, and at the beginning of the ceremony the bishop would ask the kids questions.
Of course they were all nervous, “Will the bishop call on me?” and they’re trying to squeeze down a little bit, be out of sight. But one youngster, when the bishop started to ask questions, raised his hand right away. He was ready to recite a Psalm for the bishop, Psalm 23. So he stands up and he says, “The Lord is my Shepherd. There is nothing I shall want,” and then his mind goes blank. The next line just won’t come, so he’s standing there and then finally says, “And that’s all I need to know.”
It’s true, isn’t it? The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. That’s all we really need to know: that God loves us, never stops loving us, and only asks that we show gratitude and try to love in return, love God and love one another. So that’s a good story about Good Shepherd Sunday. We have to think about our Scriptures today and how, through learning more about the Good Shepherd, we learn more about how God loves us and how we are to respond to that love.
The idea of God as a shepherd is woven through all the Scriptures. The Old Testament is filled with references to God as a shepherd. David, the great ruler, the first real king of Israel and Judah was a shepherd, becomes a shepherd king, kind of a paradox because a king we think of as a ruler, stern and fierce, but the shepherd is tender, loving and caring. So that’s the theme: shepherd, ruler. Ezekiel talks about the wicked shepherds, those who don’t care about the sheep anymore...