"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."
Even though we don't have shepherds in our New York Metropolitan culture, the image of a shepherd watching over sheep remains a beautiful image that is a great comfort to us. It's wonderful to think of our God as guiding us and making a way for us to follow.
We should take note, however, that the guidance of the shepherd only works if the sheep follow. And that's sometimes much less appealing to us. We like the idea of someone looking after us, but we are strong willed enough to want to go where we please and do what we want. So how are we to follow in the right path? Jesus teaches us in these same passages that the way to follow the good shepherd is to become self-sacrificing ourselves. Just as Jesus offers his life for us, we are to offer ours for one another and for those in need. And that's a challenge! May we remember that shepherding involves following and that following involves sacrifice.