What comes to your mind when you hear the familiar Bible passage from Luke 2:8-10, where the angels appear to the shepherds to proclaim the birth of a savior and His peace? Do you picture cute, little, cherub-faced boys and girls? Do you imagine shepherds that look like those sappy Precious Moments figurines you see in gift stores at this time of year?
How about when you hear that Jesus is our Good Shepherd? Do you picture Him as a soft-spoken, comforting, gentle friend? Jesus may be all that, but first He must defend us from the wolf, the Enemy who is “roaming throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls,” as we pray in the prayer to Saint Michael The Archangel.
In realty, at the time of Christ, shepherds were gritty, rugged, fierce people, who lived outdoors with their animals, and “stood on the bottom rung of the Palestinian social ladder. They shared the same unenviable status as tax collectors and dung sweepers, and Egyptians considered sheep worthless for food and sacrifice.”1 In many places in the world today, the life and status of a shepherd has not changed.
When God sent his angels to appear first to the shepherds, He was making a statement. He was confronting the snobbery of the religious and government leaders of the time, who were left out of the “birth announcement” of the Messiah. That message was that Christ had come to save sinners, the lowly, and the outcasts, not the self-righteous (Mark 2:17).
It is time to “re-imagine” the shepherds who were the first to get the message that a Savior had been born. As we battle the culture of death, and fight against the evils of free contraception, casual sex as a recreational activity, abortion, same sex marriage, and continued attacks on our religion and our religious freedom, it is also time to rethink our image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. This short VIDEO will give you an idea of what a shepherd is really like. (**WARNING: Gruesome image of the dispatched wolf at the end of the video!)
If earthly shepherds are this brave in defending their charges, how much more fierce and protective must the Good Shepherd be? The Good shepherd is both protecting us and leading us in battle so, “Do not be afraid!”
It is time to be bold in confronting the culture of death and the snobbery of the government leaders of our time! Be as fierce and as quick to defend your faith and your beliefs as this old shepherd woman was in defending her livestock. And know that the Good Shepherd is doing battle out in front of you before you even caught a glimpse of the wolf!