Today’s Gospel: John 10:11-18
These familiar words call to mind the familiar portrayal in art of Jesus gently carrying a little lamb. But this Gospel is about far more than a precious and cute artist’s vision of Jesus. The emphasis here is not on some sweet picture, but on the difficult yet freely given total sacrifice of love.
Five times in these eight verses, Jesus mentions laying down His life. He doesn’t just carry His sheep around when they stray or get hurt – of course He does that, but not merely that. He emphasizes that, as the Good Shepherd, His most important task is giving up His very life.
Jesus also takes care to emphasize that He is laying down His life – no one is taking it from Him. His sacrifice is a choice: one He could have avoided, but a choice He makes out of love for us, His sheep. He knows that it is only by making the choice to lay down His life that this broken world can be returned to wholeness.
Jesus finally reminds us that just as He has the power to sacrifice His very self on our behalf, so He also has the power to live again. Our brokenness cannot break Christ. By laying down His life, by taking on our brokenness, Jesus makes us whole.
Do I limit my idea of the Good Shepherd to a sweet stained-glass vision instead of focusing on the power behind the sacrifice?
Lord, you are the Good Shepherd. Help me always to hear and heed Your voice.
Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS