By Friar's Balsam via Flickr, Creative Commons license

I wasn’t really aware that the Fourth Sunday of Easter is called Good Shepherd Sunday but yesterday at mass it was referred to this way and of course the designation corresponds with the Gospel.  During his homily, the presider recollected a couple with two young children he’d observed the previous week and shared how he saw so clearly that the parents’ care and tending of them was shepherding, indeed pastoring; he imagined how they must have gathered the children up to bring them to church that morning, all the many tasks involved, likening this work to Jesus’ care for us.

In a more subtle connection with the Good Shepherd image, the sacrament of anointing was celebrated during mass for anyone who wished to receive it.  Perhaps inspired by another anecdote in the homily, this one about a man trying to accept his own faults and sin in order to find healing for the destructive choices he’d made in life, a large proportion of the assembly came forward.  I did not feel drawn to the sacrament but found myself very moved just to witness others receiving it.  Their willing vulnerability created a sense of intimacy, and I suddenly grasped what it was like when Jesus made the crippled man walk or told the woman at the well to go and sin no more.  He offers love and healing to each and every one of us in our unique needs, calling us each by name.

Copyright Peg Conway 20111