Good Shepherd Sunday and Good Sheep Sunday?
FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
Jesus liken himself to a shepherd. “I am the Good Shepherd”!! Which qualities does Jesus present to justify his goodness as shepherd? “I lay down my life for my sheep and I know my sheep. These are the two reasons presented by Jesus in the gospel to support the goodness of his activity.
Are there also bad shepherds? Yes, many!! Those who use others for their own personal and selfish interests: Politicians who fill their pockets with the common money; teachers who do not care about their students; preachers who make a show of themselves just to attract people; even papas and mamas who do not care to instil in the mind of their children good behaviours.
In some way or another we are all shepherds when we are responsible of others: we are good if we are ready to lay down our life and make the effort to know our sheep.
Jesus is the model:
First of all because he is brave and is ready to take risk for his sheep.
Second because he knows his sheep. He has a friendly relation with them: “I call you friends…”
But what about the sheep? If the shepherd is good but the sheep is bad, what happens?
Jesus compared himself to both, the shepherd and the lamb, and asks us to do the same.
I need to discover the qualities that make a sheep good. If I imitate them I learn to follow the right shepherd and become a good shepherd. Let us look at the them.
I have no experience of this rural work, I have always seen sheep from afar and I thought that they were cute, nice animals. One day I visited a person who owns one sheep. He used to keep it in his house during the night. The smell of the room was very unpleasant and I lost a bit of poetry about these ruminants. Few days ago, during a prayer meeting, meditating on this gospel, a member of the group asked me why Jesus presented the sheep as a model to imitate as, in his experience, they are very unruly animals and difficult to tend. Jesus should have presented instead a goat as an example of discipleship: they are easier to control. I did not answer to this.
Besides the sheep are rather fool and coward. Their only form of defence, in the face of danger, is running away as fast as possible. Are these the qualities that I should imitate? Not at all.
The good quality of the sheep is total trust in the shepherd. They follow him wherever he goes. They know that the shepherd care for them therefore they listen to him and follow him.
This attitude allow them to live longer and reach pastures that are abundant and fresh.
Listening and following: here are the two qualities of the good disciple.
This Sunday we pray also for vocations to religious life and priesthood.The Church need good shepherds and the sheep are waiting for them. Surely they are hiding in our communities, waiting for the call. Let our prayer awaken in them the desire to become good shepherds…but being first good sheep!!