I am the good shepherd; I know my own, and my own know me. – John 10:14
Truly, who cannot simply love the notion that Jesus is the good shepherd and takes care of us all, in fact, knows each one of us by name? Every time I hear John’s beautiful telling of Jesus’ parable about the good shepherd, I am filled with joy.
These are words from You Are Mine, one of my favorite hymns….
Do not be afraid I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come and follow me I will bring you home. I love you and you are mine. – David Haas
I literally cannot hear this hymn without crying, particularly at the words I have called you each by name. I think this notion that God loves each one of us is so hard to understand that we simply don’t think about it. But I think about it every time I hear John’s gospel about the Good Shepherd.
I always wondered about the notion that sheep really give a hoot about who it is that leads them around, that is, the shepherd. Seriously? Do the sheep really care? Deacon Gordon at All Saints Church in Mesa gave the homily yesterday. Though he grew up in Chicago, he married into a family who raised sheep. He talked about his mother-in-law, who really tended to the sheep. The sheep knew her voice and followed her commands, he said. In fact, one time his children – her grandchildren – asked if they could herd the sheep back to the pen. Grandma said yes. The sheep, however, had other ideas and went every which way except the way they were supposed to go. Grandma stepped in, called the sheep and they followed her. She knew each one of them and they knew her.
Just like the Good Shepherd.
My sister Jen’s pastor is a young priest of 35 or so. The same age as Jen’s son and mine. He is dying of cancer – an inoperable stomach tumor. In his homily, this brave priest said that people often ask him what he wants them to pray for – God curing his cancer or him accepting God’s will. His answer? This man who likely will succumb to cancer at a very young age said he believes that the prayer is one in the same. Because Jesus is our Good Shepherd, we must trust that God’s will most certainly will be whatever is the best for him.
Can I possibly ever have that much faith? Certainly I try. Every morning when I say my prayers, because I figure I can ask God for anything, I ask Him to cure Bill of his Parkinson’s if it is His will. That’s what I say, but what I REALLY mean is I don’t care or not if it is HIS will; it is certainly MY will and therefore – DO IT!
It is certainly a good reminder to listen to the story of the Good Shepherd and remember that he will care for us and love us forever.