In this Sunday’s Gospel (John 15:11-18), Jesus uses the image of the shepherd and the sheep (a familiar image to the Jews) to talk about the relationship between Him and us and vice versa. He is the Good Shepherd and we are His sheep. He governs His sheep, not by exercising power nor by harsh discipline, but by passionate love. His love for the sheep is shown in these three dimensions: Understanding, Caring and Sacrificing for the sheep.
! Understanding: It is the understanding that comes not from reason, nor gained by studying, but from the heart when one loves. When Jesus says: “I know my sheep” (John 10:14), He understands, not only the circumstances of our lives, but also knows our feelings. When we suffer or struggle, He shows compassion, and lightens our burden and pain.
! Caring: Jesus loves us and cares for us. He knows our needs. Jesus cares for us so that we may grow in his love, be strengthened by His love and live in freedom. Because of His love, He gives us His Body and Blood as eternal food. He promises this food will lead us to life and life to the full.
! Sacrificing: Sacrifice and love go hand in hand. Jesus says: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). And He died for us all because He loves us. He is the Good Shepherd who always protects the flock. He gave Himself for us and accepted death so that we may live.
This Sunday is also Good Shepherd Sunday. It is a day designated by the Church asking us to make a special effort to pray to the Lord for vocations to the priesthood. May many young men around the world be ready to respond to God’s call to the priesthood or religious life, generously dedicating their lives to proclaiming the Gospel. We also pray that the pastors of the Church will follow the example of the Good Shepherd, fervently praying for the flock and by their good examples, transforming the life of many people. We should also pray for ourselves that we may be empowered and equipped by the Holy Spirit for this mission as we take part in priestly life through baptism.