A shepherd who loves his sheep. A shepherd who knows each sheep by name. A shepherd who will risk his life so that his sheep can be safe. This is an arresting image that has brought great comfort to those of us who follow Jesus. We immediately feel safe, and cared for, and treasured. And so we should.
But this is only half the image. The other half of the image lies in the post-Easter story of Jesus on the beach telling Peter that he is to take over the task of being the shepherd. We who inherit the faith of Peter cannot escape this injunction for ourselves: “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). We are to be shepherds like Jesus: knowing, loving, and serving God’s sheep.
The love I have received – I pass on.
RenewalYou found me at my nadir
When despair attained new heights
I was cold to you
You drew me out
Made me feel
Nourished my soul
Made me love again
Japanese poet Daichi Matsui
Partakers of Eternal Life
Scripture reading taken from A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p.148