“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end.” The tender words of Isaiah in today’s reading end with this promise: ” Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.” (Isaiah 40,1-11)
“I am the Good Shepherd,”Jesus says
A few years ago Carol Rothstein took the picture above of shepherds in the Jordan Valley along the road to Jericho . Jesus and his followers likely traveled this same road on their way to Jerusalem and surely passed a scene like this. Would he have told them the story of the Good Shepherd then?
The mountains in the distance make the picture so interesting. Can you imagine a shepherd taking off in search of one of his flock lost in those distant hills? What an effort it would be! An impossible task! The wondrous merciful love of God for each of us is like that, our gospel today says.
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.” (Matthew)
That’s a story of God’s mercy. Ending his earthly journey, Jesus will reach out to a thief who’s lost as he turns to the thief on the Cross and brings him to Paradise.
Handel put to music this powerful theme: