"This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd." (Jn. 10:11-18)
The news of former police officer Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict on all three charges sent a wave of different emotions across the world. Responses from the globe shared a difference of opinion on what this verdict meant for the future of police officers. The pendulum of emotions swayed back and forth. Supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement rejoiced, saying finally, "Justice is for us." In contrast, some police officers saw this as a tragedy.
Millions of people who saw the video thought that Chauvin showed no concern for the life of George Floyd. However, other footage of police officers using excessive force in previous court cases showed similar actions of the police officer using excessive force. For example, remember the videos of Terence Crutcher in Oklahoma in 2016 and of Eric Garner in New York in 2014. They died a tragic death. The officers involved in these videos were found innocent, they retained their freedom. The charges were dropped! Justice for one person may be different from someone else's opinion.
However, from here, it gets messy. As an African American, through many years of reading and studying the Bible and church documents, what is my best witness, the verdict. Yes, I rejoiced over the verdict and shouted, "Justice is for us." Fortunately, the Holy Spirit tempered the feeling of ecstasy. My joy was short-lived. Why? Because there is so much more work to be done in our current judicial system.
The Holy Spirit also showed me this one line from this Sunday's gospel, "I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold." Oh, can I get some help up in here? By all accounts, Moses murdered a Hebrew soldier. David committed adultery and caused the death of the woman's husband. Neither of these men knew that they belonged to the Good Shepherd's fold at the beginning of their lives. Here the Holy Spirit, the Word about God, teaches me that God can change circumstances for his glory. Can God use an imprisoned Derek Chauvin to be an apostle for the Lord? Yes, God can turn Derek's life around.
For this reason, Jesus shows us why He is the Good Shepherd. If left to many of us, we may wish that Derek rots in the cell. And if this is our thought, the question is, "How far are we from being the Hired Man in today's gospel, showing no concern for his sheep?" Remember, the Hired Man ran away from the wolf. But the Good Shepherd said that He lays down his life for the lost sheep. The Good Shepherd does not run away from wolves. He has the power to lay down his life and pick it up. The Good Shepherd can pick up Derek Chauvin's life and our judicial system with all its crack pieces.
Maybe you know Derek Chauvin. Perhaps you may know of people in prison because they committed a hideous crime. Or better yet, is there someone in your church that God wants you to witness to whose ears are dull of hearing the Good Shepherd's voice because gunshots still ring in their ears?
Please don't run from the wolf. We have the power to lay down our lives, and we can pick them up through the baptismal promises that live in us. Pick someone's life up today, help them to hear the Good Shepherd's voice.
Authored: Evangelist Michael Howard, MACS