"The Lord is our shepherd." We have heard it before. This Sunday’s readings are full of this imagery. I don’t know much about sheep but from what I have heard, they are rather dumb animals so I used to not understand why Jesus would refer to himself as the shepherd and we the sheep. But upon further reflection, I totally understand and appreciate the analogy.
Sheep are dependent on their shepherd and they like to be a part of a group. They are easily led by the Shepherd. In the Gosepl, Jesus compares the sheep and the goats and says they will be separated at the end of the world. While sheep are gentle and dependent on a shepherd, Goats on the other hand are much more independent and stubborn. Jesus is our good shepherd:
"Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths
for his name's sake." (Psalm 23)
The shepherd protects his flock, he guides them, he feeds them and he knows what they need and gives that. The flock usually sticks together with the occasional sheep that goes astray (to which he will come and get them to bring them back!) but the key phase is that the sheep need their shepherd.
Goats don’t need nor want a shepherd. They are not dependent. Could this be the distinction that Christ makes when speaking about separating the sheep from the goats? Could he also mean that sheep, who exist as a flock, help to take care of their own while goats just worry about themselves?
Either way, I think it’s a good questions to ask ourselves, “are we a sheep or a goat?” If we claim to be a sheep, do we depend on Jesus? Do we consider ourselves to be an active part of a flock? If not, I’d start to inspect yourself this advent!
Word up. I am Stacy, the youth minister of this amazing group of teens. I have 4 kids of my own, 2 heaven babies and like 60 teens I consider very large children of my own.