Jesus spoke to us in poetic metaphor. He used images which go straight to our hearts and memories, there to become precious stories which are the living fabric of our Faith. That Faith, though clearly and necessarily expressed in our creeds, finds its most beautiful expression in our Catholic stories.
You know, there are many people who have become and remain Catholics because of the beauty of our stories. Beauty, after all, is not opposed to truth. It is simply truth in its most attractive form.
One of those stories is that of The Good Shepherd. It is a story rich in what we might call the imagery of bonding. Who among us does not share a need for connection? We want to be with and to feel connected to those whom we like and admire. We join clubs and societies, churches and political parties and we wear the various jackets, rings and lapel buttons associated with them. We hang out together, living our life story and seeking to share it with those who are sympathetic.
We watch our kids doing exactly the same thing, though we don't always see it that way!...as they drive us to distraction with their purple hair or with trousers ten sizes too large...making them look like basset hounds in pants!
It is all in the name of belonging, of bonding. The Good Shepherd calls us to bond with Him as sheep to their shepherd and to bond with each other as flock. He wants us to not only hear His voice but to listen to it and to follow Him, because He is one with the Father and The Holy Spirit...He is God.
And yet He is one of us. He is The Lamb, The Lamb who was lead to slaughter. The lamb whose sense of bonding is so complete that He takes our sins upon Himself. We are grateful when someone assumes our monetary debts and gives us a fresh start in the market place. But how much more has He done in taking on the just debt owed to our Creator as a result of our having abused the priceless gift of free will; and not covering our debt just once but over and over...each time we appeal to Him for redemption. Now THAT is bonding!
Another beautiful story told many times in the Gospels as well as in our own lives. Another example of truth in its most attractive, most compelling form.