This week we reach the midpoint of our 50-day celebration of Easter. How are you celebrating Easter? Every year on this fourth Sunday of Easter, the gospel gives insight into Jesus Christ our Good Shepherd.
If you were hiring a shepherd today, here are some of the attributes. Wrestling a lamb gone wild to the ground because she is suffering from an infestation of ear mites is no slight task after mixing a pungent antidote of bitumen to swab the lamb’s infected ear linings. Staving sheep’s desire to gorge their thirst at a babbling brook keeps the good shepherd busy corralling his flock. He encourages them instead to lick the early-morning dew off the blades of grass to prevent his sheep from drowning to death from excessive water consumption. Sheep have a mind of their own, most often preferring to be anywhere they are not. Yet a good shepherd draws them away from danger into his inner circle of affection, becoming their headstone. A good shepherd places himself or herself between the sheep and the avenger, with each one’s name written above his head because not one will be lost under the good shepherd’s watchful care, for she sleeps always with one open eye. We see those attributes of a good shepherd are exhibited by Jesus. He knows us each by name and is deeply concerned about us. In the Gospels, we see Jesus reaching out to those on the fringe, the sinner, the lame, the blind, the hurting and bringing healing into their lives. He ministered to everyone whether they were Jew or Gentile. While announcing the Kingdom is at hand, Jesus did not force discipleship. Instead, he offered space where the person could change, turning from the paths of greed, violence, jealousy, and discrimination. Ultimately, he died on the cross to free us from sin and death.
Today we honor our mothers, modern-day examples of the Good Shepherd. A mother heals hurts with a kiss, a touch, an enduring presence. A mother’s love does not fade whether we accidently break a favorite lamp or get into serious trouble. A mother knows us by name and continues to be concerned about us in our adulthood years. A mother helps her family from gorging on the river of chips and sweets and brings us to the table of vegetables, healthy protein and drink.
A mother knows why hamsters die and why spinach (Ministry & Life Perspectives Continued) doesn’t taste good. A mother sacrifices for us, whether that is forging a dessert or giving up a special outing to come to one of our events. A mother prays that we seek the path that will lead us to eternal life.
I invite you to pray Psalm 23 with your mom in mind. We also pray this day for those who struggled to be a mother, those who because of circumstances could not be mother, and for those who have experienced miscarriages, stillbirths, crib deaths, or death of a child because of illness, accident, or violence.
Blessings on your Easter journey! Happy Mother’s Day!