The fourth Sunday in the Easter season has been traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday. The image of Jesus as the Good shepherd provides a model of leadership that all who follow Jesus are encouraged to adopt as their own.
Leadership in recent years, at all levels and across many institutions including the Church, has been under scrutiny by all sections of the media and public opinion. The failures in governance, regulation and oversight by the banks, financial planners, the police, Bishops, aged care providers and many others with responsible executive positions have led to growing mistrust and frustration with those who exercise leadership. I am not wanting to suggest that all leaders have acted this way. My own view is that the culture in which we live has been part of the problem and a shift in values is a significant factor.
The current pandemic, however, has shown that there is hope. During the Coronavirus lockdowns, governments, businesses, community groups and the Church have all rediscovered the importance of community. The voices of science and other professional groups are being listened to and acted upon to safeguard and strengthen community cohesion and wellbeing. Politicians during the pandemic in the main set aside ideology in a way we have not seen for many years, in the interest of the common good. This reinforced the values of relationships and that we are not born to live in isolation. This is the gift that we all have to offer one another.
The image of Jesus in Psalm 23 for today, much loved by many, is both pastoral and political. It challenged the false shepherds of Israel as it does the charlatans of today. It is a call not to put your trust in wealth and power but rather in relationships and love.
In our Gospel reading, Jesus declares himself to be the “Good Shepherd” who puts others first. He warns against false shepherds. This Gospel is a sober reminder of the responsibilities of Christian ministry and the importance of love. The challenge that remains after the Coronavirus is that we may simply revert to old habits, attitudes and values and regard the present as simply a “Glitch”. The alternative is for our community and nation to rediscover and affirm in all aspects of life that leadership embraces the call to justice, honesty, transparency, and the sharing of the bounty of creation for all people.