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What is a ‘good’ shepherd? – 4th Sunday of Easter 2023
Part of the human tragedy is that those who seek to lead us are so often ill-fitted to the task.
Using a pastoral model of his time, Jesus highlights the difference between those leaders who are selfless, self-giving, courageous and principled, and those who only see opportunities for self-aggrandisement and personal gain. It is bad enough when those in business or politics turn out to have feet of clay, sad but unsurprising.
How much more tragic when religious leaders use prayer to mask systemic injustice and prejudice.
In today’s Gospel we have a series of comparisons, power vs authority, faith vs deceit, words vs deeds, trust as opposed to cynicism. And there is also a warning, that actions speak far, far louder than all the words in the world.
It is all part of Matthew’s continuing theme where the first shall be last, at least those counted first by worldly standards, and the last, first.
The parable in today’s gospel is usually called ‘The Labourers in the Vineyard’. On the face of it, we are told a fairly simple but slightly odd story about an employer who seems to have some difficulty with identifying how many workers he actually needs to bring in the harvest on his land.
The poem comes from ‘the state of us’ a first collection of poetry by Larry Doherty – ISBN: 978-1-5272-7173-9. Larry Doherty’s debut collection of poetry is eclectic, nuanced and powerful. It reflects his thoughts and feelings on life in these challenging, turbulent, watershed times.