The Good Shepherd

‘Then drew near to him all the publicans and sinners.’
Friends in Christ, in the days that Jesus walked the earth, so many were attracted to his holiness and his goodness. It says that all the sinners and tax collectors drew near to him, in Geek, πᾶς – that is, ‘all,’ ‘every one,’ a multitude.’
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It was the sheer goodness of Christ, the face of a man, but the divinity of God, that drew them – that drew sinners. ‘This man welcomes sinners,’ they said.
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Not only welcomes, but heals; forgives. ‘Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.’ The sinner who encounters Jesus Christ, finds that it is possible for him to begin again.
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Daily through our so-many faults, small or even very big, we can always approach this dear Savior: ‘Lord, I love you, I praise you. ‘Forgive me for my failings and foolish sins. ‘Help me to begin again.’
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The Pharisees grumbled and murmured against Christ because of the way he sought out sinners.
On this subject, Cornelius Lapide says: ‘To the Pharisees, the sprit of Christ was clearly opposed, for he came into the world to save sinners and sought every opportunity to converse with them and be present at their feasts; for nothing is more pleasing to God than the conversion of the sinner.
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Our Savior compares his seeking for sinners with the shepherd who seeks his lost sheep. ‘What man of you having a hundred sheep, if he loses one, does not leave the 99 and go after that which is lost?’
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We, because of our sins, were the wandering sheep, walking the path which leads to eternal death. But the Son of God came down from heaven to seek us.
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Gregory of Nyssa says: ‘When the shepherd found the sheep he did not punish it, but placing it on his shoulders carried it gently.’
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There are very ancient paintings that can still be seen from the early days of the Church. Paintings on walls in the catacombs and other simple chapels – very ancient. One of the oldest we have, is that of the Good Shepherd, carrying that sheep on his shoulders to bring him home. This image affected very much, those early Christians.
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St. Gregory writes: ‘The returning Shepherd does not say, ‘Rejoice with the SHEEP that is found, no. He says, ‘Rejoice with ME.’ Because truly our life, is his joy.

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