May 8 – The Good Shepherd
Today is Mother’s Day in the United States and Canada and over 80 other countries around the world. I wish all Our Lady of Mercy mothers, expectant mothers, and women who have been a mother figure in our lives, a blessed Mother’s Day! And may God grant eternal life to those mothers who have died whose memory we lovingly recall this day as well.
Today is also known, because of our gospel reading, as “Good Shepherd Sunday”. Perhaps the Good Shepherd is an appropriate image for mothers too. While Shepherds are seldom seen by us today except in rural settings, the manner and mission of the shepherd is one of the most poignant and powerful descriptions of God and of Jesus in the scriptures. Unlike contemporary sheep ranchers who control their herds with dogs, horses, pick-up trucks or other methods, shepherds in Jesus’ day knew their sheep individually. Each had a name to which it responded when called by its shepherd. Our parents gave us our name. Moms know their children and can distinguish their voice, their cries, even in a crowd. Rather than prod them from behind, the ancient shepherd would walk ahead of the sheep, striking a safe path, and search for good grazing and water. Moms sacrifice much to guide and provide the best for their children. When a sheep was missing, the shepherd sought it out; when a sheep was injured, the shepherd carried it and tended its wounds. Our moms have done just the same. Jesus laid down his life to secure the safety and salvation of sinners. I haven’t known a parent who wouldn’t lay down their life for their child, who doesn’t agonize when their child is sick, who would suffer themselves if it would take away any suffering of their child. In this way, moms (and dads) model the Good Shepherd. Unfortunately, there are some who have not experienced Jesus the Good Shepherd in their mother or father. May the love and nurturing you missed be found through another person(s) Jesus has put in your life. And may we all have the grace to forgive those who have hurt us in any way.
So on this Mother’s Day, let us honor ALL the women in our life who have nurtured our faith, modeled the Good Shepherd, and loved us as a mother would, no matter what!
Blessings to you all on this Mother’s Day!