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The Good News for the day, April 22, 2018

Fourth Sunday of Easter (50) (“Good Shepherd Sunday”)

Jesus says: “I am the good, competent shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his own life for the sake of his sheep. Someone hired for the job—and whose sheep are not his own—sees a wolf coming and abandons the sheep, runs away, and the wolf catches some and scatters them. This happens because such a person works just for the paycheck and has no real care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know mine and mine know me—the same way the Father knows me, and I know the Father.  I am willing to lay down my life for the sheep. (I have other sheep that do not belong to this flock. These others I have to lead, too; they will come to hear my voice. There will be just a single flock, a single shepherd.) This is why the Father loves me—because I lay down my life (in order to take it up again). No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have the capability to lay it down, and the power to take it up again. This directive I have gotten from my Father.” (John 10)

This image is so common! You and I see paintings and pictures of the Good Shepherd in many a home. It also happens to be among the earliest portrayals of Jesus in the catacombs—the shepherd with the lamb across his shoulders.

But it is an image meant to trigger in you and me a change, a Good News revelation of some sort—a lifting up of our hearts into some insight and behavior that embodies Jesus today.

Perhaps you might notice the caring courage of a shepherd, their readiness of self-sacrifice and their sense of the oneness joining flock and shepherd. Realize then, perhaps, that the image is mean to stir (and be) the Jesus-Life in you and me—to be that caring, that courageous, and that oneness with others. You and I are flock and shepherd.

The key element is the Caring—the benefit of others—for their own sake, for their own lives—and that is important to you. We get engaged, involved and really care about others (good or bad, great or small, rich or poor, wise or stupid, worthy or unworthy). We are engaged and part of the lives, struggles and hopes of others, that we serve authentically a real person, that we have courage to not just engage, but to be silent and ready—as need be—like a sheep herder—alert to dangers that may come but also mostly just quietly available. So many aspects of the Jesus life mirror that image into you and me. It is uplifting Good News—you care enough to give your very best.

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