Monday, May 16, 2011

Without a shepherd, sheep are not a flock

'Obedience is mission: "I have come into this world to do the will of my Father, who has sent me." Where there is no obedience, there is no virtue; where there is no virtue there is no good; where good is wanting, there is no love, there is no God; where God is not, there is no Heaven.'--St. Padre Pio

Gospel text (Jn 10,11-18): Jesus said:
“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father.”

Today, Jesus tells us: «I am the good shepherd» (Jn 10,11). When St. Thomas Aquinas comments on this avowal, he writes «it is evident that the name of "shepherd" suits Christ, for just as the shepherd leads his fold to the pasture, Christ feeds his flock with a spiritual food: his own body and blood». It all begun with the Incarnation and Jesus carried it out all the way through, finally concluding it with His redeeming Death and Resurrection. Once resurrected, He entrusted Peter, the Apostles and the Church, with this shepherding till the end of time.

Through the shepherds, Christ gives His Word, spreads out His divine Grace with the sacraments and steers His flock towards the Kingdom: He offers himself as our nourishment in the sacrament of the Eucharist, imparts God's Word and Magisterial teachings, and caringly leads his People. Jesus has picked up shepherds for his Church in accordance with their heart, that is, those men that, by impersonating Him through the sacrament of Holy Orders, donate their lives for their sheep, with pastoral charity, with spirit of humble service, with leniency, patience and fortitude. St. Augustine frequently spoke of this shepherd's demanding responsibility: «This shepherd's honor worries me (...), if what I am for you frightens me, what I am for you reassures me. For you I am a bishop, with you I am a Christian».

And each one of us, Christians, work by supporting the shepherds, praying for them, loving them and following them. We are also shepherds for our brothers, by enriching them with the grace and doctrine we have received, by sharing their worries and joy and by helping everybody with all our heart. We go out of our way for all those encircling us in our familiar, social and professional world to the point of giving our life as a ransom for many of them with the same spirit of the Son of Man who «did not come to be served but to serve» (Mt 20,28).

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