April 26, 2015
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28-29
1 John 3:1-2
I’ve heard people voice some common misconceptions about small-business owners.
Some of these comments include: they don’t have to work hard because they have employees to do the work for them; they can take time off whenever they want; they can work fewer hours than their hirelings; they can command a larger salary with impunity.
Talk to the business owner, however, and you get a different story.
While the owner has the most to gain, he or she also has the most to lose.
If an employee doesn’t show up for work, it’s the owner who takes up the slack. The owner works long hours with no overtime pay so that the business will turn a profit, and if income isn’t sufficient to meet payroll, the owner depletes his own savings or takes a cut in pay to cover the shortfall.
The owner, having the most “skin in the game,” goes to incredible lengths to protect his or her investment. The employee works for a paycheck — the owner works for the company.
Jesus makes this contrast in today’s Gospel when he compares the good shepherd to a hired man who doesn’t own the sheep.
The shepherd/owner has the most to gain and the most to lose, whereas the hired hand can choose to save his own skin by leaving the sheep vulnerable to attack.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, views us not simply as mindless sheep to be rescued, but as beloved children of God to be treasured and protected. He has invested his total self in our welfare and as a pledge toward our eternal destiny.
During the Easter season, we celebrate a Lord and Savior who doesn’t work for himself but for his Father, and who has quite literally demonstrated the Father’s extraordinary love and mercy by putting his own skin — body, blood, soul, and divinity — into the game with the highest stakes of all.
Having willingly laid down his life for his sheep at Calvary, he continues to do so until all his scattered sheep are safe under his care.
This column is offered in cooperation with The North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.