Text: The Holy Gospel According to Saint John 10:11-18
Saint Augustine tells us, "The first holy men were shepherds." (The City of God, 15)
It was Abraham who was a tender of sheep.
It was Moses who tended the sheep of Jethro.
In the history of Israel's descendents, these people of God were a pastoral people. They understood easily the idea of Christ as their personal Good Shepherd. The ideal qualities of a Palestinian shepherd were constant vigilance, fearless courage, and patient love for his flock. It is in this reading from the 4th Gospel that our Good Shepherd says he gave up His life for us!
There I much today to rejoice in when we read this passage of the Gospel and think upon the great plan and purposes of God for our redemption. .
I rejoice in the Church that we are part of as the sheep of His pasture, the flock of Peter.
Jesus said --
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
One can easily remember the story of David and Goliath and what David said to King Saul in I Samuel 4, when Saul and the soldiers thought David was "unqualified" to fight Goliath, the Philistine --
34 Then David told Saul: "Your servant used to tend his father's sheep, and whenever a lion or bear came to carry off a sheep from the flock,
35 I would go after it and attack it and rescue the prey from its mouth. If it attacked me, I would seize it by the jaw, strike it, and kill it.
36 Your servant has killed both a lion and a bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine will be as one of them, because he has insulted the armies of the living God."
37 David continued: "The LORD, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear, will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine." Saul answered David, "Go! The LORD will be with you."
What powerful words from a little shepherd boy, but David had the heart of a king, not of a soldier who fought for money. David had the a heart similar the Heart of Jesus. He was willing to lay down his life for the sheep under his care... this was the vocation of David, the next king of Israel, of the house of Judah.
12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.
The Son of David said these words.
The Messiah King spoke these words, because He was no hired servant. He spoke as the Very Son of the Living God!
So many today serve God like hired servants and not as shepherds of the flock of God.
I know this, because I was a shepherd amongst evangelical Protestants before the Lord led me Home to Rome and back to the fold of St. Peter. I was ever so amzed to find more "preachers" and "pastors" more interested in an insurance company by the name of "Blue Cross," than, proclaiming the message of the Cross of Christ Jesus. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep, beloved.
Those who have no heart, like David, for the vocation they are called to by God, are acting like "hired servants" who simply run from their responsibilities and care little for their sheep.
May we who have been called of God be vigilant with Mary in the vocation we have been given by God alone? Woe the shepherd who engages his calling with the heart of the hired servant.
Jesus said --
14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,
15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
What a comfort this is, beloved. I KNOW MY OWN... and my own know me.
See how the Holy Trinity works in redemption. Here is the Father and the Son. The Holy Trinity is spoken of elsewhere in John's Gospel.
The Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.
What a consolation this is for me as a convert.
When I first read this with my "Catholic eyes" following the Sacrament of Confirmation I was so comforted to realize that all of those years that I KNEW JESUS were not for nothing. I WAS truly FOLLOWING JESUS. I did HEED the voice of Jesus, but, I did not understand the whole wealth and variety of the totality of the Faith of our Fathers!
JESUS said, "Come and see." I came and I saw, and I stayed!
Since, then, I am seeing more and more the riches of Mother Church.
Mary teaches me daily with the Holy Spirit. Listen - "...and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd."
Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ!
There is such Love in the Holy Trinity. God is Love.
17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.
18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father."
Thank God for this authority.
Praise be to God for this revelation of God through Jesus Christ!
We serve no Myth.
We have not heard fairy tales or mythological events, conjured by clever minds!
WE serve, as sons and daughters of God the Living Jesus, the Risen Christ! And, you and I now serve as those new creations in Christ Jesus also raised from the dead!
Mother Church proclaims this Gospel message to us every Easter and Mercy reigns supreme and God will never be defeated!
Goliath is dead.
Jesus, our Son of David is alive! He reigns.
At the risk of sounding redundant, I will be redundant.
Mary and John demonstrate this to us in Revelation 12 ... Satan is a defeated foe. Saint Michael has cast him down to earth with a third of the angels, the fallen ones.
Now, we stand with Mother waiting for the Day of Yahweh when Christ will come again in Glory!
All of this is because Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He laid His life down for the sheep... for King Jesus says -- "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father."
Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Holy Trinity!