Photo illustration by Phil Younk
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Jesus’ hand always reaches out with love

Hand in hand. Waiting at the stoplight on my way to work one morning, I watched a group of children near their school walking with their teachers toward the school bus – most likely going on a class trip. They were holding hands – linked together – not only protecting a child from getting lost but seeming to say we are going on a journey together.

This Sunday’s Gospel is just four verses long – taken from John, chapter 10, in which Jesus refers to himself as the Good Shepherd. Jesus often used the images of shepherd and sheep to explain his teaching.

Sheep are timid, gentle animals that live in flocks and depend on people for protection. A good shepherd knows each of his sheep. When he calls, they follow because they know his voice and trust him. A good shepherd is even willing to die so the sheep might live.

In loving obedience to his Father, Jesus’ sufferings, death and Resurrection have gained heaven and eternal life for us. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who loves us, cares for all our needs and watches over us. He knows each of us by name and knows everything about us – what we like, what makes us happy or sad, and what we need. Jesus never forgets us.

Jesus promises that his hand is lovingly put on our lives. Nothing in our lives will ever make him let go – not our wrongdoing, not our bad choices, not our bad attitudes – nothing!

On our faith journey, Jesus’ hand is always reaching out to us to give us life – through the hands of our parents, family and others, and through the sacraments, especially reconciliation and the Eucharist. Jesus’ hand is always reaching out to give us his forgiveness and love.

In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis, our good shepherd on earth, challenges us to live our faith by loving others and meeting their needs. Look at your hands.

Are you using them to reach out to others – praying, loving, forgiving, sharing, helping and giving?

Jesus, help us to love those you put into our life; help us to hold on to your hand and to follow you, our Good Shepherd.