Sunday, April 25, 2010


To be a shepherd of God’s people demands purity of intention and of heart. It requires total dedication to the point of being ready to lay down one’s life for the good of the sheep, following in the footsteps of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. As members of God’s flock, we have the right to demand all this of our shepherds, but we have also the duty to pray for them, and to support them in all their worthy enterprises.

We have also the duty to promote and sustain new vocations to priestly and religious life. We must pray that God’s flock may never lack holy representatives of the Eternal Shepherd. Let this be the main intention for which we offer this Eucharist.

Jesus said:

“My sheep hear my voice.I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”


Being mostly a shepherding people, Israel enjoyed
thinking of the Lord as its divine “Shepherd.” The pious Jews expressed their trust in God’s provident care and protection by singing: “The Lord is my shepherd There is nothing I shall want. I fear no evil!” (Ps 23:1.4)

And the Lord did take care of His “flock” in all
circumstances. In most cases, however, He entrusted the ordinary care of Israel to “human shepherds”: the political and religious leaders of His people. These were expected to be the symbols and instruments of the fatherly concern which the Divine Shepherd showed for His people at all times.

Often, however, the leaders had turned into “bad
shepherds” who pastured themselves, while treating the sheep harshly. (See Ez 34:3-6.) The Lord threatened to dismiss the bad shepherds, and promised to take care of His own flock personally. (See Ez 34:11-16.)

Such a promise was fulfilled eminently in Jesus
Christ, the Son-of-God-made-man. In his short earthly existence, through his teaching, his miracles,
and his loving kindness, Jesus showed himself in innumerable instances that he was, indeed, the good shepherd who really cared for his “flock.” Eventually, he went to the extent of laying down his life for his sheep, thus living up to the definition of “good shepherd” which he himself had given. (See Jn 10:11.)

After his resurrection Jesus did not forget his “little
flock” of frightened disciples. Knowing that he would not be visibly present among them any longer, he entrusted them all to the care of Peter, the chief “vice shepherd” (see Jn 21:15-17), and of all the other apostles (see Mt 28:19-20), and their successors.