The Good Shepherd

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Freeman

It is Good Shepherd Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Easter and yes, you guessed it, the gospel today is about the Good Shepherd. By now, you must have learned that our Lord Jesus Christ has so many titles. It starts with Emmanuel (meaning God with us), he is the Messiah, the Bread of life, he is the Living Water, the Rabbi, Teacher, the Master, the Healer, the Vine, a healer, a carpenter, the gate, the counselor, the Lamb of God or the chosen one of God, the Son of God and yes he is the Good Shepherd. These are just some of the titles that we attribute to our Lord Jesus Christ.

All these titles correctly describe our Lord Jesus Christ, but perhaps the most important title that we bestow on our Lord is that he is the King of Kings. But then we humans always think as humans do, but God thinks always of things divine. So while we adore and praise God as the King of Kings, our Lord Jesus Christ would rather tell us that he is the Good Shepherd. You can read today’s Gospel reading in John 10:1-10.

“[Jesus said,] 1 “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. 2 But whoever enters through the gate is the Shepherd of the Sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as [the Shepherd] calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

4 When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. 5 But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” 6 Although Jesus used this figure of speech, [the Pharisees] did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

7So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the age for the sheep. 8 All who came [before me] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

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Our Lord Jesus Christ has that uncanny right-down-to-earth way of teaching his disciples his doctrines and I would like to believe that while he was talking about being “The Gate” of the Sheepfold, there were some Pharisees around listening to him. Our Lord uses the imagery of a Shepherd because in those days in Palestine, Shepherding was considered a good profession. Sheep was common in Israel, which was what most Israelites ate and therefore using the simile of the sheep was easily understood by many. 

From his talk, we understand that God the Father is the Sheepfold or at least he owns the Sheepfold and our Lord Jesus Christ is the Gate. Of course he later points to himself as the Shepherd. As he said, a Shepherd walks ahead of his sheep and they follow him because they recognize his voice. They will not follow a stranger because they don’t recognize his voice.

He was talking about the thieves and robbers who do not pass through the Gate but climbs over to get to the Sheep, who do not recognize their voices. They are of course the Pharisees… who do not believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Gate of the Sheepfold. This is why the Jews do not listen to them…but listens to our Lord Jesus Christ. They were so jealous of the works of our Lord… they had him beaten and crucified in the hope that by killing him…he’d be gone forever. It was their biggest mistake.

2,000 years later, there are more Christians than Jews. This means that people throughout the millennium listened to the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. To us Catholics, Jesus is the Gate to life eternal. Without him, we could never even dream of attaining eternal life.

In the next verse, which is the gospel reading for tomorrow Monday, our Lord Jesus said, “I am the good Shepherd. A good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.” We just had our season of Lent to remind all of us that our Lord Jesus Christ became man to be one of us,but he was destined to die for our sins so that we could all live in a life eternal with the Father. Indeed, our Lord Jesus laid down his life to save us. This was the greatest gift that God ever gave to mankind after the fall of Adam and Eve when they lost Paradise.

Just before he ascended to the Father, our Lord Jesus Christ met Simon Peter for the last time in Tabgha to restore his Primacy. All that our Lord did was ask Peter, “Peter D=do you love me?” To which Peter answered him and he asked this three times and every time he answered Peter with, “Feed my sheep, feed my lambs, tend my sheep and Feed my lambs. It was our Lord’s way of telling Simon Peter to also be a good Shepherd.

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