Today we encounter the Gospel reading of the Good Shepherd. This reading really reminds us of how Jesus is constantly seeking out the hearts of everyone, not just a select few and not just those who might be open to listening. Jesus is truly seeking the lost sheep at all times. Pope Francis often reminds us that we need to “walk with people” and that we must “reach out to the margins.” This is that same Good Shepherd heart that Jesus revealed to us long ago.
Perhaps in our own lives we experience people that are not like us. Maybe they think diﬀerently or act diﬀerently. Perhaps they lack a certain reverence or have very little to no belief in God whatsoever. Perhaps they wear clothes that we would not choose to wear or use language we would choose not to use. It could be someone from another culture or religious tradition. Maybe it’s someone in a very nontraditional relationship. Perhaps it’s somebody at work that is often disagreeable. Perhaps it is someone of our faith who walked away from the church a long me ago. It could be someone in our own family who has become an outcast for some reason. There are margins… there are sheep that are outside of the sheepfold that Jesus often encourages us to seek out, to befriend, and to be the presence of Christ to with love and compassion and without judgement or harsh criticism.
The challenge for us is simple. Will we be like the Good Shepherd? Will we continue to seek out the hearts of those most diﬃcult to reach? Or… will we conﬁne ourselves to comfortable warm spaces among those who already agree with us? Jesus’s method, as well as the method of Pope Francis, is simple. Be kind to people… be helpful… be charitable… be quick to forgive… be patient… meet people where they are at… walk with them… be a Good Shepherd!