The Divine and Good Shepherd

April 22, 2018

Jesus proclaims that He is the Good Shepherd and He is willing to lay down His life for His sheep.  We are gifted to live in this present age.  We are gifted to be given the opportunity to not only retrace the sound of His words on our hearts, but also to know His words are true.  He lived this proclamation by His death on the cross.  He lives this mission through the divine mercy He gives us.  In the midst of the proclamation of today’s Gospel we hear Jesus state not only is He the Good Shepherd, but He knows His sheep and they know Him.

This sense of identity is so important.  It is all too often we hear of a security breach in which important information has been stolen.  There is no security breach with Jesus.  He knows everything and shepherds us to new life in Him.  We belong.  This sense of belonging is an important concept.  This sense of identity that is given to us is God’s commitment found in divine love.  The late Cardinal Bernadin spoke of the importance of Eucharist in this way. He said that when we gather for Eucharist we learn “who we are and whose we are.”  This connection, this belonging—they are crucial to our life’s pilgrimage.  We have to know who we are and to whom we belong.

Today Jesus tells us He is the Good Shepherd and He will lead us to places of nourishment and enrichment.  He will lead us to places of love and forgiveness.  From the Parable of the Lost Sheep we know He will go out to find what is lost and bring it back to the fold.  From today’s Gospel He speaks of His commitment to us as deeper than that of a hired hand who will run away when there is danger.  All of these aspects of shepherding are presented for us to ponder.

Added to this is the reality that this Good Shepherd is the Son of God.  Furthermore, His true identity is that of our divine shepherd.  Now our identity in relation to Him takes on a whole new significance.  This divine shepherd will come after me when I am lost.  This divine shepherd will never leave me in the face of danger.  This divine shepherd will identify me as one of His own.

Blessed are we who believe, blessed are we who live in this time when words have become reality and reality has changed the world.

Reverend John J. Ouper