Psalm: 72
Gospel: John 10:10-17
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from The Five Hundred Verses of St. Maximus the Confessor

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice

Tonight I want to cover the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It might sound odd for someone for someone with an M. Div. to say….but I have always been somewhat perplexed and challenged by this depiction of God.

For one it reinforces the idea that the Son came into the world not to condemn the world….but to save it. Pretty straightforward stuff right???

But here’s the thing…..While I can believe that…’s very hard for me to deal with the implications of such an idea. When I come across people I consider immoral….or whom I don’t like very much…I want to see them punished…..and I want to see them punished now! 😛

When I say punished I don’t mean I want to see them put to death…..but it certainly wouldn’t hurt my ego to see the people I don’t like be publicly embarrased at some point….or to see them fail in some aspect of their lives.

But that’s not how Grace works…..God’s way is not our way. Grace is precisely those who don’t deserve anything receiving a Gift anyway. Of wrong-doing being forgiven rather than punished….

Grace is not about justice….Grace is about pure love. 😀

On the flip side of this Grace coin…I sometimes wonder whether it is really true??? Is it a reality??? or is it some myth people have made up to excuse the bad behaviour in our lives???

I have done some pretty horrible things in my life. I have caused physical, mental, and emotional damage to strangers, friends, family….and even against those whom I love more than life itself. 😦

I think that’s where faith comes in. Faith is different than certainty. We aren’t asked by Jesus to know that He speaks the truth..only to believe it.

Faith in our relationships–both human and divine–means that there is an element of trust involved. While I don’t know that my sins have been forgiven….I trust that it is so. For my part, I also endeavour to follow Jesus’ teachings to the best of my ability.

If Grace has been extended to me–who definitely does not deserve it–who am I to judge the next person beside me…let alone someone who has done me harm???

This trust in God’s grace through Christ is the whole hope of the Church. We act together as a community of faith to follow the Shepherd as best we can…and to be open to the fact that even those outside of the fold are cared for and loved beyond all measure. +