Gospel text (Jn 10,11-18): Jesus said, «I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. Not so the hired hand or any other person who is not the shepherd and to whom the sheep do not belong. They abandon the sheep as soon as they see the wolf coming; then the wolf snatches and scatters the sheep. This is because the hired hand works for pay and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father. Because of this I give my life for my sheep.
»I have other sheep that are not of this fold. These I have to lead as well, and they shall listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock since there is one Shepherd. 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 freely. It is mine to lay down and to take up again: this mission I received from my Father».
Comment: + Fr. Josep VALL i Mundó (Barcelona, Spain)
I am the good shepherd
Today, Jesus tells us: «I am the good shepherd» (Jn 10:11). St. Thomas Aquinas, commenting on this assertion, writes that «it is evident the title of “good shepherd” suits Christ for, as the shepherd feeds the flock in the pasture, so Christ feeds the faithful with a spiritual food: his own body and blood». It all started with the Incarnation and Jesus, throughout his earthly life, fully accomplished it to its end through his redeeming death in the Cross and his resurrection. After it, He entrusted the shepherding of the people of God to Peter, to the Apostles and to the Church, till the end of time.
Through his shepherds, Christ teaches his Word, He gives out his grace with the Sacraments and leads the flock towards the Kingdom: He gives himself as food in the Sacrament of the Eucharist; He imparts the Word of God and his Magistery, and solicitously guides his People. Jesus provides his Church with shepherds who can follow His heart, that is, men who, symbolising Jesus through the sacrament of Holy Orders, are willing to give their life for their sheep, with pastoral charity, with a humble spirit of service, and with clemency, patience and fortitude. St. Augustine frequently spoke of this engaging responsibility of the shepherd: «To be honoured as a shepherd worries me (…) what I am for you terrifies me, what I am with you consoles me. For you I am a bishop, with you I am a Christian».
And each one of us, Christians, we work by helping these shepherds, praying for them, loving them and obeying them. We are also shepherds for our brothers, providing them with the grace and the doctrine we have received, sharing their concern and joy, and helping everybody with all our heart. We devote ourselves to those around us whether in our family, or in our social and professional world, quite willing to offer our life for them all with the same spirit of Christ, who came to this world «not for other people to serve him. The Son of Man came to serve other people» (Mt 20:28).