Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

Each of us has that certain friend, relative or neighbor who is good at something that we’re not. That ability could be about almost anything you can name. Baking a cake; building a deck; telling a story; driving an RV or flying a plane. It is these talents and abilities of others that make life better for us, even if we must fight off a little jealousy. But, when you add in your specialty, we have an expanded basis for gratitude, well past the fourth Thursday in November.

There is one Person who once came to live with us from a faraway place called heaven who had every possible talent and ability there could be: Our Lord Jesus. Even so, He put limits on Himself. Yes, He performed miracles. Yes, He rose from the dead. But in His teaching, He only told us what we needed to know; never to limit ourselves in becoming better; told us how to be better; and then invited us to live in His kingdom.

In today’s Gospel Reading, Jesus made bold to call Himself “The Good Shepherd.” That title meant more to His contemporaries than it does to us, at least at first glance. Most of us know nothing about this humble and difficult way of life called shepherding. We have to “Google” it. We do know that shepherds raise and tend to sheep.

When Jesus called Himself the “Good” Shepherd that word in John’s gospel meant more than “good at” some task or other. It meant “noble” or “ideal” shepherd. That declared that Jesus was not like the bad shepherds who neglected their flocks and let them become victims of wolves. In fact, Jesus gave His life for His sheep, who, in this context are namely you and me.

The good news is that we are always part of His flock if we want to be. We will receive His attention, His care, His love. Of course, that word “if” makes all the difference. We can reject Him. Write Him off our list of priorities if you will. This happens to otherwise faithful sheep, particularly when inclusion in His flock, or loyalty to Him involves pain and difficulty.

In our society, with its upside-down value system, that pain may be no more than embarrassment at being known as His follower. Yet every crucifix, large or small, is a vivid reminder of how much He loves us and will not hold back His love if we repent. Like a good shepherd, He feeds His flock with the finest of foods, namely the Holy Eucharist. Boy is our Shepherd good at loving us, is He not? How are we at loving Him back?

Even a four-year-old little girl knows the coldness implied when we make no return to God. Her mother watched her one day hugging a doll in each of her pudgy little arms. After a few minutes, she wistfully looked up at her mother and said, “Mama, I love them and love them and love them, but they never love me back.”

Well…God love you and may you always love Him back.

Rev. Peterson’s Reading & Gospel Summary

Reading I: Acts 4: 8-12

Peter’s first discourse is more like an “apologia” than a sermon.
In it. Peter answers the Sanhedrin’s question directly.

Reading II: 1 John 3: 1-2

By way of the Paschal mystery, we have truly become the children of God.

The Gospel: John 10: 11-18

In this section, “good” really means “noble” or “ideal”, and not just “good at” something or other. Unlike bad shepherds, who allow the sheep to be eaten by wolves, Jesus lays down His life for His sheep.