It is appropriate that this blog begins on what the Church calls Good Shepherd Sunday, for it is begun in the hopes of drawing souls back to God through the intercession of Christ the Good Shepherd. Let us investigate this title of Our Lord and encounter what He desires to tell us. We read in St. John's Gospel (10:11-16; Douay-Rheims):
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep and flieth: and the wolf casteth and scattereth the sheep, and the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd: and I know mine, and mine know me. As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep. And other sheep I have that are not of this fold: them also I must bring. And they shall hear my voice: And there shall be one fold and one shepherd.
Let us enter into the Scriptures and see what Jesus desires us to know of Himself.
What does it mean to be a shepherd? It means to be the protector and the guardian of the sheep. It is the shepherd who must protect the sheep against the intrusions of wolves and other ravenous beasts out to gobble down upon the sheep. The shepherd is the one who guards the sheep at all times, not merely during the day. In the days when Christ roamed this earth, a shepherd did not leave his sheep for any reason. He even slept near them! Finally, the shepherd is the guide, the one who leads the sheep through thick and thin to restful waters and green pastures.
This is the model for the priesthood of Jesus Christ that must be lived out today. The priest must be the protector of the flock of Christ, guarding them against the temptation of sin. The priest must save the flock from the wolves of modern culture and the ravenous beasts who are the devils, desirous of drawing souls into the eternal sufferings of Hell. The priest must lead the people to the restful waters that flow from the heart of Christ Crucified, and to the green pastures where they will be fed on the Eucharist to strengthen them on their journey.
Please pray for the priests of the Church, most especially the Pope and bishops who are our chief shepherds in union with the Good Shepherd. Pray especially for the men who are becoming priests, that they will imitate the Good Shepherd and not the hireling. Let us also give thanks to the gift of God in His Son the Good Shepherd, who has given us shepherds to follow in these last times and has not left us alone. Give thanks that He cries out to you, that He beckons to you, and that you hear His voice calling above the noise of the world. Let us answer that cry that He makes for each of us: "Come, follow me, and I will give you eternal life."