While today is the fourth Sunday in the Liturgical Easter Season, it is also referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday. The gospel offers us the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. 
 
Although we may not personally know a shepherd, the people of Jesus’ day would have readily understood this metaphor. A good shepherd cares for his sheep, not because it is his job. It goes deeper than that. It comes from the heart.
 
A good shepherd cares if a sheep is hurt or lost or cold or hungry. A good shepherd will find a lost sheep, hold them close and carry them home.  
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This image of the shepherd reminds us that a sheep’s safety and well-being depend on the shepherd. While the shepherd will lead and guide, the sheep must learn to follow, learn to recognize the voice of the one who keeps them safe.
 
The relationship between the shepherd and the sheep is key. In referring to Jesus as the Good Shepherd, we are reminded to listen for and to recognize the Voice of our Good Shepherd. 
 
In a time when many voices are coming at us – from family needs, concerns, and worries to national and international uncertainty and violence, where do we hear the voice of our Good Shepherd? How does holding this voice in our mind and hearts calm our fears and bring us hope?
 
May we come to know Jesus as the Good Shepherd whose voice is truly our way, our truth and our life. 
 
In referring to himself as the Good Shepherd, Jesus is reminding us that all our concerns are his concerns –  Jesus will lead and guide us and hold us close. He reminds us that he will, and has, laid down his life for us. 
 
Do you know how much you are cared for?
 
For once we know how much we are cared for - and believe it, it is easier to become a good shepherd for others. The care given to us becomes the care we offer to others. 
 
May we know the Good Shepherd loving us…holding us close…and sending us forth to be a good shepherd to love and care for others in Jesus’ name.
 
- Sister Pat