Sheep Safely Grazing.

Sunday 7th May

sheepImagine losing a child in a crowded street.  Imagine the sense of panic, the dizzy head as you frantically look around. Imagine the thumping heartbeat and the tension in the gut. It is a horrible experience.  Imagine desperately calling out the child’s name as you search high and low.  And then imagine the relief as the child hears you call, or sees you and recognises you, or when you finally find the child: relief, letting go, the sense of panic falls away.

We rarely think of God as having the same strength of desire to find those who are lost.  We are familiar with the parable of the lost sheep and we easily imagine the Good Shepherd calmly carrying the newly found sheep on his shoulders.  It is an image of peace and tranquility, of safety and protection, not of gut-wrenching panic finally over.

But in today’s Gospel it is not Jesus who finally recognises the sheep, it is the sheep who recognise Jesus. Other sheep are led away by bandits and thieves, but Jesus’s sheep stay put until they hear the voice they know calling them on.

In our desire to tell people that God loves them, that Jesus the Good Shepherd really does care for all the sheep, we easily forget that only a few hear and recognise Jesus when he calls. Many people, it seems, go through their lives oblivious of the daily blessings they receive.  Only a few see through the coincidences to recognise the divine providence of God – to hear and know God’s voice.  This is not a promise of life after death, for the Good Shepherd loves all the sheep, and salvation is assured, but this is about walking with the Good Shepherd, about choosing abundant life here and now, rather than living like lost sheep.