ColumnsNaming Grace

Good Shepherd: fourth Sunday of Easter

The image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, beautifully depicts Jesus’ love and protection for each of his lambs — each of us — even to the point of laying down his life for us. He teaches us how to live as good shepherds in our own homes, with our own children. In this most intimate name of Jesus, we learn how to shepherd, guide, guard and care for those entrusted to us. It is only by following the example of the Good Shepherd that any one of us can serve as the good mom, the good dad, the good Mimi, the good Papa, the good aunt or the good uncle. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, provides the model for good, godly parenting!

Because of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, I have learned how to love my children. From the moment each was conceived, I knew I would willingly lay down my life for them. I surrendered sleep in the middle of the night, laid down social media to read stories, sacrificed expensive items for valuable education, guided them in God’s teachings, and guarded them through intercessory prayer and blessings. I have also laughed with them, played with them, kicked leaves, built snowmen, picked wild-flowers and rushed down slides with them.

Because of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, I was on guard for any wolf who could have steered our children away from God. A hired babysitter or daycare provider may watch over our children with a certain amount of concern and care. But, certainly, there could have been wolves who could have mocked the faith, led them into dangerous behavior or fled when times got tough.

Because of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, I have learned to know mine — each child’s needs and desires, gifts and talents, struggles and accomplishments. I know the distinctive voice of each child, whether as an infant crying at night, or an adult child calling home excited with good news or downhearted with troubling news.

Because of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, I have walked with staff in hand to guide the wandering child or reprimand the disrespectful child. I laid down my staff to hold closely the child who was sick, tired or weary. I carried, physically or spiritually, the child whose arm or heart was broken. My heart wept when one of them experienced rejection or defeat.

While Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has helped form me as a mom, I’ve also recognized my failure to adequately love my children. I was often tired, busy, self-concerned, worried or fearful. I was at times angry, sharp, resentful and irritated. I made bad judgment calls. I failed to listen well enough, guide thoroughly enough or love deeply enough.

Because of Jesus, I’ve learned dependence on God and the need to stay close to the heart of the Good Shepherd. Jesus loves our children infinitely more than we do. They are God’s children. He is the Good Shepherd — the good parent, who ultimately loves them, forgives them, includes them, rescues them and saves them.

As a mom, I trust Jesus Christ, the name through whom all salvation comes, to guide me in Scripture, carry me through prayer, feed me in the Eucharist and provide for me through his body. Only through the Good Shepherd can I even begin to care for each of his little lambs entrusted to me. Now, that’s good news!

How has Jesus guided your parenting/grandparenting?

Which aspect of the Good Shepherd do you relate to the most?

Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding parents in their vital task as “first preachers” of the Good News in the domestic church — the church of the home.