Sunday, May 5, was the Second Sunday after Easter. In the Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion tradition this day is known as Good Shepherd Sunday after the Gospel for the day, St. John 20: 11 “Jesus said, I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”
The theme for this Sunday is God’s mercy & concern for us as in the symbolism and concept of the shepherd. In the modern, mostly urban world we live in, the image of the shepherd does not have the same impact that it had in the time of Jesus as we are far from the agricultural society in which He lived but it was a powerful image for the people of His time & is for us if we understand the meaning behind it. The scriptures contain other references to God as shepherd, most famously in the Twenty-third Psalm, “The Lord is my Shepherd…” which everyone knows. The image also appears in the Old Testament lesson for today in Isaiah 40: “He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs with his arm and gently lead those that are with young.” The theme also appears in Ezekiel where God says I will search for my sheep and gather them and also in Jeremiah where there is a warning to bad shepherds who do not care for their flocks.
The shepherd was a universal symbol in Jesus time and we can understand our relationship to God in this symbol. The shepherd must die for his flock and this is what Jesus did for us.