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Posts Tagged ‘Good Shepherd’

Good Shepherd fresco from the Catacombs of San...

Good Shepherd fresco from the Catacombs of San Callisto under the care of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a sermon for the fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B:

The Supreme Shepherd

A Sermon based on Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-18 and John 10:11-18

Ever since Moses, God’s people had thought of themselves as a flock of sheep.  God had taken Moses from tending the flocks of his father-in-law Jethro, and put him in charge of shepherding Israel.  Years later, God had taken a shepherd boy, David, and raised him up to be king of Israel.  God’s people were used to seeing themselves as sheep and their leaders—both religious and political—as shepherds.

What a time God’s sheep were having when Jesus came on the scene!  It wasn’t the first time that their shepherds had been interested in things other than the true welfare of the sheep.  In fact, the sheep were used to it.  But still it rankled.

The political shepherds from Rome were interested in power.  They kept their feet on the necks of the people of Palestine, using terror, taxes, whatever worked to keep them in line and cooperative.

The religious shepherds—scribes, lawyers, Pharisees—religious professionals, in other words, were likewise interested in power: maintaining their sacred empire, centered in the Temple.  Their empire was built out of layers and layers of law that, they were certain, only they could rightly interpret.   They and only they really knew what God’s will was.  Everyone else must submit without question.  It was a burden, and it was hard for God’s people to bear.

Jesus shook his head.  He had just observed how the authorities responded when he healed a man on the Sabbath.  See John 9.  The leaders hardly noticed the wonderful gift of sight Jesus had given the man who had been born blind.  Instead of giving thanks, they launched an official investigation and declared Jesus a sinner because he broke the Sabbath law—their interpretation of it, at any rate.

Jesus shook his head at them.  As far as he was concerned, shepherds that were mainly concerned with their own power and authority and position weren’t really shepherds at all.  No wonder his heart ached with compassion for the crowds of people. They truly were like sheep without a shepherd. (more…)

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