I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.
One of my favorites poems “The Purple Cow”, written by Gelett Burgess (1866-1951) is wonderfully simple, silly and profoundly true. At least it rings true for me, I have not seen a purple cow and ‘though it may be a tad unfair, I am quite content not being one.
So, imagine what it must have been like for Jesus to hear from God that God wanted him to be the Good Shepherd. Well and good, Jesus perhaps thought, and that although he had never seen one, if God thinks he’s up to the challenge then, why not? But then God adds, hardly an afterthought but the whole point, that he wants Jesus to also be the lamb that is slaughtered.
Throughout his life Jesus is a wonderful example of the Good Shepherd, he embodies the role in all that he says and does. And more than just being the Good Shepherd he invites us to imitate him, to be like him, to be Christ-ian (Christ-like). He does not invite us however, to be the lamb. That role, the role of saviour he reserves for himself.
There are many characteristics we can attribute to that of Good Shepherd but the one to consider today is that of familiar voice. The voices we are most familiar with are those with which we live. So familiar in fact, that we can distinguish one persons throat-clearing from another; one persons steps from another. We belong to one another. This sense of belonging should extend to the Church because; just as we belong to God we belong to one another. And a goal for us is to help one another hear the Good Shepherd’s voice. Listen.