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Better than sheep?

In our Gospel this weekend we hear Jesus declare himself to be the Good Shepherd. He reminds us just how far he is prepared to go, just because he loves us. Unlike the hired man who disappears at the first hint of trouble, Jesus stays with his flock whatever happens.

He uses the phrase "I know my own and my own me." There is an expectation that in the same way Jesus knows each of us by name; knows all our thoughts, hopes and fears, then we will repay that by getting to know Jesus. In doing this we will hopefully learn where to follow, how not to stray from the path he wishes us to follow. It is often said that sheep do learn to recognise their shepherd and will follow his or her voice when being led from hill to pasture and back again. This may be true but their loyalty is shallow, as is being demonstrated as I write this from a cottage where the owner keeps a few sheep in the field next door. When a car turns up they look up from the hard work of munching grass. If it is their owner they hurry down to the gate to meet him. If not, then it's heads down and back to the grass. If however I then walk to the gate with the stale remains of a baguette it is a totally different story. If they could they would jump the gate to get an extra snack. So much for loyal indifference. It isn't all that different from how we behave sometimes if you think about it. For all we know how we should repay the love Jesus has for us, it can take very little for us to forget how to act in the face of passing temptation. Thankfully, however often we stray, the Good Shepherd will always try to bring us back into his fold; but you do have to ask if we might try harder to be be better than sheep.

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