Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Compassion of the Good Shepherd

"It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one."- John 10: 22 - 30

What did Jesus mean when He said, "you do not belong to my sheep"? When one observes a herd of sheep, one will notice that they follow each other around, toward the sounds of their master's call. The sheep by instinct know where to go because they believe they will be led to a safe place. By virtue of our Baptism, we know we belong to Christ and we believe that if we listen to God, we will be led to a safe place, to enjoy the inheritance that He has prepared for us. And if we ever lose our way, we are confident He will search for us.

Those who do not believe or choose not to listen to God cannot know Him. They do not belong to His flock. Therefore, they cannot have any part of His inheritance. It is like this: how can a student who does not listen during class and who does not study at all ever be expected to know the lesson? He eventually will fail the subject. Those Jews, who for many reasons, perhaps due to ignorance or stubbornness but mainly due to their pride did not believe in Jesus and could not accept the works that He did. They failed Jesus because their spirits were blinded by the hardness of their hearts.

Let me then share the following true story which can give us a comforting thought on perhaps why God chose to call us his sheep and He the Good Shepherd, the Divine Lamb of God. The story is entitled "Farmer discovers compassionate nature of sheep".

A Queensland sheep farmer has witnessed some intelligent and compassionate behaviour from his flock. Mr Johnston from Yungaburra recalls “I was mustering sheep in the Winton district and I had the privilege of seeing a weaner lamb caring for its blind mother. I noticed when the mother was feeling lost or lonely, she would bleat and her lamb would gallop up to be by her side, but then I noticed something even more astounding. When the ewe came across a log blocking her path, her lamb came racing to the rescue, jumping the log directly in front of her, showing her the way! The ewe then followed the same path, responding by hearing alone. There’s no doubt the ewe was completely blind. I was able to walk up to the ewe and wave my hand in front of her eyes. There was no response at all, not even a flicker of an eyelash. The poor soul was completely blind and her baby lamb was her minder!

On another occasion two weaner lambs were grazing together, when one galloped off, leaving the other one standing there looking all bewildered. It looked alarmed and bleated several times, and the first lamb came running back to help it and they ran off together. This lamb was blind also. I feel so privileged to have witnessed this caring nature of sheep.” (Source of the story: Smarter than Jack).


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