In the Gospel reading today we have the beautiful image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, “My sheep hear my voice: I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). This pastoral image was particularly relevant to the people of Jesus’ time, many of whom were shepherds themselves, and all of whom were likely familiar with an agrarian lifestyle.
It is perhaps less personally potent for most of us today, though here at Carmel Mission we do have our beloved Mission Ranch sheep to inspire us! It remains one of the most beloved ways that we think about Jesus and our relationship to Him. I think its popularity lies in part in what Jesus says only a few sentences later, “No one can take them out of my hand.” (John 10: 29) The relationship of the sheep and the shepherd evokes intimacy, care, and protection.
In Jesus’ time it was common for shepherds to band together at night, gathering their flocks into large groups numbering over 5000 sheep. In this way, they could share the night watch and still get some sleep, guarding the flock in shifts. In the morning the shepherds would call to their sheep with their unique voice and the sheep would extricate themselves from the large group and follow their respective shepherds to the day’s grazing areas.
They never had to worry about the sheep getting into the wrong flock because the sheep themselves knew the shepherd’s call, the shepherd knew the sheep so personally that he would immediately notice if one was missing. This is something we all crave, to know and be known intimately. It underpins the fidelity of couples and the steadfastness of friends, and these human relationships are a mere glimpse of the incredibly intimate love of our Creator, who loved us in our mother’s womb.
This brings us to another relationship we celebrate this Mother’s Day. The relationship of mothers and their children of any age is a reflection of the perfect, unconditional love of God. Jesus Himself knew the love of a mother, who risked everything to bring Him into the world, raised Him, loved Him, followed Him, and accompanied Him to Calvary to suffer with Him. Today we honor that fierce immeasurable love, and its important place in our lives, in whatever form it takes.
I wish you and your loved ones Easter blessings of good health and new hope. Please join in praying for all mothers, and for peace in our war-torn world,
Please take a moment to read our Carmel Mission Weekly Bulletin.