(Jn 10, 1-10)
“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father.”
Good shepherd is a powerful symbol of how Jesus cares for His own. It brings forth the sense of fierce tenderness, of worries and concern that goes beyond the idea of mere possession of that which one protects. It brings to fore the kind of self-investment whose foundation is love. It is no wonder that Jesus could give His life freely and without regret for His sheep.
This is a hard vocation to follow. How many of us is generous enough to remove the “self” as the center of our life and put “others” instead? It takes a highly evolved consciousness and spiritual strength to have the capacity to do this. Hence we need to learn from Jesus. We need to sit at His feet and progress towards selfless love. And so the Good Shepherd can multiply Himself only in those whose hearts are ready and brave.
Fr. Paulson, V. Veliyannoor, CMF.