Jesus compassion for the “shepherdless” calls us to bring to the lost, forgotten and marginalized; those on the “periphery”). Today’s Gospel reaffirms our responsibility as disciples of Jesus to welcome rather than condemn, to lift up rather than judge those who have not heard the voice of the shepherd, to seek reconciliation with those from whom we are estranged or separated for whatever reason. Every one of us, in our struggle to make sense out of life, seeks absolutes by which to guide our decisions, formulas to determine what is fair and good, yardsticks to judge success and failure. Masters and gurus, saviors and deliverers, parties and movements of every stripe preach to their followers how to secure fortunes but not how to live, how to feel better but not how to cure what afflicts, how to conquer one’s enemies but not how to live lives of justice and peace. Christ the “shepherd” walks with us on our life’s journey through hurt and change and maturity and wholeness to the dwelling place of God. The defining mark of discipleship is the recognition that we are both called and freed in baptism to bring healing to the broken, comfort to the afflicted, hope to the despairing. In his first “organizational meeting” of the Twelve, Jesus commissions them to take on the work of healing, restoring, reconciling. As God humbled himself to become one of us and be part of our lives, we are called to the same humility in order to bring the compassion and forgiveness of God to the poor, the needy, the helplessly and hopelessly “dead,” the alienated, the rejected and the abused.