This Sunday’s passage from John’s Gospel presents what is perhaps the best known and best loved image of Jesus. That is the image of the good shepherd. One of the distinguishing qualities of the good shepherd, as opposed to a hired worker, is ownership of the flock. When we speak of ownership, we’re not talking about impersonal control, but rather a personal approach of making it ours.
That’s a big difference in terms of a personal investment and this is the characteristic of the good shepherd. He didn’t own part of the flock, he owned it ALL. And Jesus didn’t identify with only some of his disciples, but with ALL of them. He didn’t abandon them when they were slow to understand, or denied him, or deserted him, or betrayed him. They were his, ALL of them, and for them He would give his life.
I wonder how I would respond when I die and the Lord asks me if I was a good shepherd? Did I shepherd the earth and treat it with care? Did I shepherd my family and lead them to good pastures? Did I look upon the whole human race as members of one flock or treat others as my enemy? Did I gather people into God’s kingdom, or cause them to scatter? What kind of shepherd have I been?
St. Joseph, pray for us !
DeColores, Deacon Doug