THE GOOD SHEPHERD
A shepherd by profession is one who spends his whole life with his sheep, taking care of them, raising them, loving them, healing them and, most of all, protecting them from all harm.
The Jewish people loved the comparison of God Himself being their shepherd because the founder of the Jewish people Abraham was a shepherd.
But Jesus brings us to a new understanding of a shepherd, he says: “I am the good shepherd.”
So, when Jesus says, I am the Good Shepherd, he is saying that he is the one who defends and takes care of us and makes us feel secure, and never loses any of us, in fact, he has gone to the extent of giving his life for us.
A good shepherd often went for days on end with his sheep in search of fresh pastures. For the night he would sleep in the open fields with his sheep and to protect his sheep from wild animals, he would sleep across the gateway, that’s why Jesus says, “I am the gate,” with a shepherd like Jesus, we naturally feel secure, happy, and content.
During Holy Week in Rome (28 March 2013) Pope Francis called on the world’s priests to stay close to the vulnerable, the marginalized and to be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.”
St Augustine also talks about how important it is that the members of the flock of Jesus also care for each other.
Hence, as Shepherds and as part of the flock of Jesus it is important that:
- We check our pace. If our life is going at breakneck speed, we must slow down to match the pace of someone who travels life more slowly.
- We must Listen… a little more deeply. Look into another’s eyes. Hear more than just the words.
- We must surrender the need for perfection and focus on the people and values that really matter.
- We must notice details about our community which we never saw before.
- We must review important decisions in terms of its impact on our relationships with others.
- We must Expand our circle of ‘advisors’: Search out the opinion of the youngest or the ‘least’ in our midst.
- Be physically present with others, by just ‘being there.’
- We must review the way we communicate (verbally, in writing, in our body language)
Lord, you are the Good Shepherd. You know us more deeply than we know ourselves. Help us to listen to your voice and to reflect your shepherd care to those who need our protection and care, help us to be close to people in their struggles, to be attentive to the uniqueness of others, to attune our minds and hearts in love, give us a gospel perspective on situations of despair and keep us focused on your shepherd love.
We thank you and praise you, Lord God, for your enduring care.
Fr George Carlos Sdb