St. John’s Gospel theme of self-giving to the point of death, gives us the Lord’s description of Himself under the well-known image of the good shepherd, who not only cares for his flock but is willing to die to protect the life of that flock.
Jesus, our Good Shepherd continues to care and die for us even after He has gone from our physical sight. He is constantly giving Himself to us in the sacraments especially in the Eucharist, nourishing us with His Precious Body and Blood. He still heals the sick, a ministry which He had already begun with His apostles, when Peter cured a crippled man: “...in his name this man stands before you healed.” (Acts 4:10) He is always ready to go after us when we stray too far, His voice constantly reaching out to us: in missions, retreats, sicknesses, crosses and other various ways, calling us back to the safety of His fold.
John 10:16a says, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead.” This is a direct appeal to us to cooperate with Jesus in this work. He Himself installed Peter to pasture His flock (Jn 21:15-17). He calls us in turn to become caring shepherds to others. There will be times when we can be called upon to sacrifice our finances, our comforts, our own welfare, and even our own lives for their sake. We should be able to take risks in order to change the lives of others which will change our own as well. But the faithful performance of such can result in a withering of the heart when one is not motivated by love.
The Lord gives us opportunities to show how we appreciate all He has done for us. The very fact of living a Christian life in its entirety is, of itself, a powerful example to those outside the fold. A devout Christian will not stop at good example only. If he truly loves God, he must truly love his neighbor and must want him to have a share in his God-given gifts. He must strive, by every available means, to lead his neighbor on the road back to God. Prayer will be his most potent weapon for the conversion of those who are wandering aimlessly far from God. He must be deeply rooted in the Word, learning all about the truths of his faith, helping them see the light of salvation (Acts 13:47).
The first strong motive in responding to His call is the example of Jesus Himself. Humble and obedient to the Father, He did not ask, “How much?” He gave Himself, His all. He did not ask, “How far?” He went all the way, crucifying our sins to the cross. Another motive is the immense love of God. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” (1Jn 3:1) How, then, can we not love God as our Father and all men and women as our brothers and sisters.
Through the various programs in the BLD Community, we are formed into expert witnesses to our faith and for our God in building His church. In the weekly Word sharing circles, we open ourselves up to the experience of God, His reality, His power and His love. Undertaking the role of leaders or shepherds to those under our care, inspires in us the desire to follow the One who holds us in His own heart. We are truly blessed for this, our good fortune!
Can we honestly say that we are truly followers of our Good Shepherd in our care, concern and selfless service to those other children of God who are still outside the fold?