Responding to the Good Shepherd


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Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. When I think of this day, I especially think of a picture of Jesus as the Good Shepherd in the library where I meet with a group of incarcerated men to lead discussions of philosophy and spirituality. While numerous paintings of the Good Shepherd exist that feature Jesus with a lamb wrapped around his neck as he carries it, this one features Jesus with arms stretched down to get a sheep that has been stranded, like the one above. In this interpretation, the sheep is not just lost but incapable of being able to return on his own, and likely in peril without the shepherd’s help. Many of the men over the years have pointed to that image as akin to their experience of being in need of God’s grace to get them out of the difficulties in which they have found themselves, whether sin or despair or any of the myriad challenges that face those in prison—and their experience that God stretched out his arms to bring them back. This image of the shepherd also emphasizes the peril at which he puts himself, thus reminding us of Jesus’s willingness to give up his life for his sheep. Jesus dies not only for a group of people, but for each one of us, personally and individually.

Many of these men then also go on to try to act as shepherds for others. Some invite other men to religious retreats such as Cursillo and others to reading groups or recovery groups like AA or Alternatives to Violence programs. Others if released speak at high schools or others groups about ways to avoid a life of crime or addiction. When our experience is one of having been well taken care of by our own shepherds, the natural desire is to want to pass that on to others.

This year, as they have done for more than twenty years, the men at the prison that I go to will walk up to 20 miles (on a circular path) for the Walk for Hunger, a walk that provides funding for food pantries across the state. Since they lack access to cash, they invite interested people outside of prison to donate directly to Project Bread on their behalf. I find it an inspirational example of knowing of the love and care of the Good Shepherd and passing it on.

One thought on “Responding to the Good Shepherd

  1. you have touched me. Thank you for your words of grace. Hey I am making a Christian project for YOUTUBE, with my friends, we r raising money for charity(starting this summer). Um for more info please go to my blog. ITs the one that’s say big announcement . Hope to talk soon. From ur friend Brandon. Also need followers and support.

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