Jesus: Our Good Shepherd
In today’s readings Jesus speaks of himself as the Good Shepherd. Two powerful images are presented. Jesus teaches us in the Gospel, “I am
the gate." And then we hear “The shepherd calls his sheep by name and leads them out because they recognize
Jesus uses the image of shepherding to teach us about himself. In the Holy Land, for shepherding there was a sheepfold, that is, a circular wall of stones, topped by briar or another barrier. There was a single small opening for the sheep to pass through. The sheep would be out grazing during the day. As nightfall begins to settle in, the shepherd leads the sheep inside the sheepfold, inside the wall of stones. Over time the sheep get to know their shepherd, they recognize his voice and he has a name for each of them. Once all the sheep are inside the enclosure—well, there is no hinged wooden gate to close at the opening. Instead, the shepherd simply lies across the opening, so that no one or no wolf could get through without going over his body first. The shepherd then makes himself the barrier gate. The sheep are safe, and any intruder must go over the shepherd’s body first.
“I am the Good Shepherd,” so Jesus claims, and then he adds, “and I will lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14,15).
Jesus became a living gate, laying down his life on the cross for us—so that we, his sheep whom he calls by name, “might have life and have it more abundantly.” It is his love which we celebrate this Easter season. Not only did he suffer for us on the cross. More than that, we celebrate that he has been raised, and our Good Shepherd calls us by name, assuring us of his loving care. In this Easter season we keep our focus on the Risen Jesus. Once we truly grasp the love he has—laying down his life for us, our living gate—then we will be transformed and live in the joy of his love.
To whom am I listening to today? Is it the loud voice of fear and anxiety in these troubled times? Or is it the calming voice of the resurrected Jesus telling us he loves us and “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Listen to Him and take comfort in knowing that the Jesus is our Good Shepherd and that even though we may be walking through the darkest valley He is with us and there is nothing that we shall want.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.“ (Psalm 23:6)
God bless you folks, Father Gerard