Jesus The Good Shepherd
We may think that looking after sheep is a simple task, but it isn’t. Looking after sheep is a highly specialized job. Jesus’s love and concern for us is similar to that of a shepherd for his sheep. The Good Shepherd knows his sheep and cares for each of them. Like human beings, sheep also have good and bad points. Sheep have a tendency to follow the crowd, and they don’t think of the consequences. Sheep can be stubborn, and within a flock of sheep there is always a leader and a tail-ender. The leader is the sheep who moves first, and the tail-ender is the last sheep to follow. However, when sheep have trust in someone, they follow that person without thinking, and they have a great love for their Shepherd.
Shepherds often gave names to their sheep, and when they called them by their names the sheep came to them. However, if some other person tried to call them by their names they refuse to come, because they recognize only the voice of their shepherd. Shepherds gathered their sheep in the mornings and led them to the hills for grazing. They spent the whole day with their sheep, and watched over them carefully in order to protect them from wild animals and other enemies. If a single sheep got lost the Shepherd would search very carefully for it, and after he had found it he would come back greatly rejoicing.
Shepherds want the best for their sheep. In the Gospel of John 10:10, Jesus says, “I have come that you may have life and have it in abundance. In Psalm 23 we see that Jesus provides for his sheep, for in that Psalm we have the words, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.” Sheep have a tendency to drink only from still waters, and never from flowing waters.
At the end of day the Shepherds led their sheep back to the Sheepfold. A sheepfold was a place with high walls to protect the sheep, but no roof or door. At night shepherds slept at the door of the Sheepfold, to guard their sheep. When Jesus said, “I am the door of the Sheepfold” this is what he was speaking of, since the Sheepfold was a place where the Shepherd served as the door. When Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd,” he was saying that when we are in the presence of Christ we are safe, because he himself will protect and regulate our lives.
Many great people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, were shepherds. King David was a shepherd when he killed Goliath. David killed a lion and a bear in order to protect his sheep, and as he went out to fight Goliath, he said to King Saul, “The LORD who delivered me from the lion and the bear, will deliver me from this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:34). When we see the history of our Catholic faith we find many Saints who loved and cared for people, as a Shepherd cares of his sheep. Among them we have St. Theresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius, and Archbishop Oscar Romero. Concerning Archbishop Romero, his friend Pope Francis said, “Romero gave up his security and life to be close to the poor and to his people.”
By, Cyril Veliath SJ