I bet you have seen a shepherd recently. I believe that we all see shepherds each and every day – but do we recognize them. Before we answer the question we need to answer the specific question - what is a shepherd?
There are many biblical references about shepherds starting with the birth of Jesus and in today’s gospel proclamation we read the reference to Christ the Good Shepherd. Did Christ really tend sheep? Isn't that our envisionment of a shepherd or specifically their ‘job’? We often have the mental picture of a shepherd but really what is the duty/work/service profile of the shepherd. The definition of shepherd found in my research is: - a person who tends sheep, a pastor or a German shepherd.
With this definition in mind we can certainly see how the reference to Christ as the Good Shepherd is fitting. Often we refer to our pastors or clergy as shepherds so that works as well. I would suggest that we as individuals each have a role both as shepherd and as recipient of the shepherds care. Look around you for the most evident example of ‘shepherd’. Parents, fathers and mothers alike, certainly have the role of a shepherd. Just as the shepherd tends the flock with diligence love, compassion, to the extent of risking all for the sake of one in the herd so do parents shepherd their family regardless of malady, illness, in good times and in not so good times, with little sleep, the list goes on – you get it, all for the child or children. Even later in our life we the children are called upon to shepherd our parents in their twilight years.
Many times in our life we find ourselves challenged by our surroundings and evil, on the edge of a very crash. We need only look to the Good Shepherd with confidence of His love, encouragement, wisdom, perspective, strength, patience and grace. Just as the child looks to the parent we can look to and rely on Christ fully there for each and all of us. There is no question of commitment – look at that crucifix and know. It’s a most appropriate time of the calendar year to reflect on our own call to shepherd and likewise to those who shepherd us –our mothers and fathers who we recognize in May and June each year.