REFLECTION FOR TODAY
April 25, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
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.” Jn. 10:11
Our gospel reference of today gives us the heart of Jesus’ definition of the most important quality of a good shepherd. He is one who “lays down his life for the sheep.” He is one who is willing to suffer, out of love, for those entrusted to his care. He is one who chooses the life of the sheep over his own life. At the heart of this teaching is sacrifice. A shepherd is sacrificial. And being sacrificial is the truest and most accurate definition of love.
Jesus is the good Shepherd, not just the good but best of the good Shepherd. As the good Shepherd, Jesus knows his sheep by name. It takes an intimate relationship and love to know someone by name. As the good shepherd, Jesus provides for his sheep both their physical and spiritual needs. He protects them from diseases, sickness, sin and evil influence.
As the good shepherd Jesus leads his flock to places of green posture and water. He leads His sheep to safety, to the fount of baptism and repentance. No sheep will ever go missing if they follow Jesus the good shepherd.
As the good shepherd, Jesus feeds his sheep through prayer, the scripture and the Eucharist which is His body and blood. Jesus is the only Shepherd that gives himself as food for the flock. As the good shepherd, Jesus defends his sheep from wild beast and evil forces. He died in place of His sheep by “Laying down his life for his sheep”.
As good Shepherd, He was wounded for his sheep. There is no true Shepherd without a wound. The wound is a mark of testimony for those who have chosen to conform their lives to that of the Supreme good Shepherd who was wounded for the sake of his people. The wounds can be painful most times but let us be assure that the more painful the wound is, the more glorious we become.
Though Jesus is the “Good Shepherd” Who gave His life for us all, we must also daily strive to imitate His sacrificial love for others. We must be Christ, the Good Shepherd, to others every day. And the way we do this is by looking for ways to lay our lives down for others, putting them first, overcoming every selfish tendency, and serving them with our lives. Love is not only experiencing endearing and heartwarming moments with others; first and foremost, love is about being sacrificial.
Reflect, today, upon these two images of Jesus the Good Shepherd. First, ponder the tender and gentle Lord Who welcomes you and cares for you in a holy, compassionate, and endearing way. But then turn your eyes to the Crucifixion. Our Good Shepherd did, indeed, give His life for us all. His shepherding love led Him to suffer greatly and to lay His life down so that we could be saved. Jesus was not afraid to die for us, because His love was perfect. We are the ones who matter to Him, and He was willing to do anything necessary to love us, including sacrificing His life out of love. Ponder this most holy and pure sacrificial love and strive to more fully offer this same love to all those whom you are called to love.
Jesus our Good Shepherd, I thank You profoundly for loving me to the point of sacrificing Your life on the Cross. You love me not only with the utmost tenderness and compassion but also in a sacrificial and selfless way. As I receive Your divine love, dear Lord, help me to also imitate Your love and to sacrifice my life for others. Jesus, my Good Shepherd, I trust in You.