In the 1980s, my family and I lived in the Holy Land, in Bethlehem. We had the opportunity to observe many shepherds herding their sheep. Some gently and carefully led their sheep. Others drove the sheep, angrily hitting them with a rod. The good shepherds stood out.
Throughout scripture, the image of a shepherd is a positive one. God, kings, Moses and other leaders are described as shepherds in their care of the people. A few minutes ago, we heard this imagery in the 23rd Psalm.
In today’s gospel, we see the tender relationship of Jesus and his sheep. The shepherd initiates contact with the sheep. They don’t have to go off in search of a shepherd. He comes to them.
Often, the sheep of more than one shepherd would be enclosed in the same pen. But in the
morning, when it is time for the sheep to be separated and taken out to graze, the shepherd w…