At that time: Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him for they know his voice.” “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
John 10:1-4, 7, 9-10
Two prominent words in today’s liturgy of the word: the sheep and the shepherd.
The sheep. When the word ‘sheep’ comes up, we as Christians have that automatic default thought of the story about their seperation from the goats on the final day and how the sheep is used to depict gentleness and righteousness. But today Our Saviour lets us see the sheep through the gospel reading as something different: weak and without direction. And this is what we are if we can truly call ourselves sheep; gentle and righteous maybe, but weak and without direction. We are weak to trials and temptations on our own and bound to sin. Like sheep we are vulnerable, incapable of taking great care of our souls without grace and mercy, easily getting weary when evil strikes. We have no natural sense of the right direction most times and may deviate from the right track every now and then, if not guided.
The Shepherd. But Our Lord Jesus Christ presents Himself to us today as the Good Shepherd. He is the one who enters the sheepfold of our hearts through the open door without forcing His way in by climbing over our walls. He is the right voice we the sheep are to listen to and follow for it is He who gives us repose in fresh and greener pastures, leading us near restful waters thus reviving our souls. He is the door to our salvation, the door to the blessings and eternal life we seek.
Although we as sheep are weak and seem not to know which way to go in life, our Lord Jesus the Good Shepherd assures us of how he is willing to go a great measure to protect us from the evil ones and save us from our foes. Like St. Peter in the first reading, we need to “save ourselves from this crooked generation,” a generation where the predator seeks to devour and destroy the sheep. We need to flee from the voice that calls out to us to sin.
The Good Shepherd never stops calling us whenever we go astray to the voices of the world. May we listen to Him so that goodness and mercy shall be truly ours.