I have always remembered the statue outside of my church—called the Church of the Good Shepherd—growing up. The statue was of Jesus with a staff, holding a lamb around his shoulders while looking down at everyone who walked past. My preschool, connected to the parish, had programming centered on the imagery of Jesus as a loving shepherd, leading us to love, justice, and communion with one another. The story of the Good Shepherd gave 5-year-old me comfort in the idea that no matter how lost I become, I would never be forgotten and would always be called to return back to love. As a child learning about the Catholic faith, this imagery of God as a loving shepherd ingrained a deep sense of trust—that none of us are forgotten.
I was reminded of this truth and imagery of God in yesterday’s gospel reading. Jesus reminds us that God is a God of the people who does not forget anyone, especially the oppressed, marginalized, and criminals. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” is what the criminal on Jesus’ side asks after Jesus has been crucified for us. The criminal is received with only love and familiarity as Jesus suffers alongside him. The God of familiarity and love is present throughout the Gospel in parables like that of the Good Shepherd, and in the moments of joy and sorrow throughout Jesus’ life, revealing that no one is forgotten by God.
We are called to be in communion with one another by not forgetting the other, as we are not forgotten by God, our Shepherd.
Grace Adams joined the ISN staff in 2022 as the coordinator for the Catholic Ethical Purchasing Alliance. She is an alumni of Le Moyne College and spent a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Rochester food bank where she assisted in the development of several community health programs.