Reflection & Dialogue: Jesus the Good Shepherd, the Lord, yesterday, today and for ever

In the parable at the beginning of the long discourse on himself as the Good Shepherd, Jesus stresses some fundamental truths concerning his own person and mission, concerning his relationship with the Father and his “flock”, his faithful followers. The Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep. There is a special rapport, a deep understanding, between himself and his sheep. They recognize his voice and follow him, refusing to follow other would-be shepherds who would lead them astray.

            A noteworthy feature of all today’ three readings is the central place of Christ in faith, in the Church, in God’s saving plan. At his resurrection and glorification, after death on the cross, God made Jesus Lord and Christ. That was the message of Peter to the Jews on Pentecost Sunday, as he calls on them to repent and turn from a religion cantered on Moses and his law to belief in the Gospel. The communities to which Peter wrote his letter constituted a tiny minority in the great Roman Empire. While Peters tells them to respect and obey all human authority, he reminds them of their own Christian heritage which set them apart, a heritage based on the death of Christ on the cross. Christ will be their example to follow. In the parable of the Good Shepherd, Jesus himself makes it clear that he is the door to the sheepfold, the only door to true Christian community on earth, and the only door for union with the Father, and entry to heaven. He is the way, the truth and the life.

            Christ could refer this followers on earth as his little flock, and the Church at any time is tiny in comparison with the teeming millions of the human race, a humanity whose creator is God and whose saviour is Jesus. The question arises as to how all these are saved, having never known of Christ the door. The problem of Christ and world religions is a large one, and a stumbling block for a number of believers. The Church admits that she has no answer to the problem. She believes that Christ is the door, the way, and truth and the life, and also knows that God’s goodness is boundless, and has his own answer to this question.

            Since today is Good Shepherd Sunday let us pay attention to the need to hear his words to be united to his Father, so that we can hear his voice in a world of many other voices that would take people away from God. And since it is also the day of World Prayer for vocations let us pray that many in our own day will hear the call of the Good Shepherd to serve him as shepherds and pastors.

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