Why does Jesus call Himself the Good Shepherd? The people listening to Jesus would have known the prophecy of Ezekiel. Here are some excerpts from Ezekiel:
Shepherds of Israel, you feed yourself, should you not be feeding the sheep. You have not fed my sheep or healed the sick. You have scattered my sheep. Thus hear the Lord God, I am against you shepherds. I myself will feed my sheep. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep. I myself will save my flock. I will be their God and they will be my people. And you are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, says the Lord God.
Pope Francis has stated that his priests should smell like the sheep. Do we?
Jesus is attacking the Jewish leaders with very forceful words by calling Himself the Good Shepherd. He is telling them that they have failed. That now God is coming to shepherd His sheep. None of the Jewish leaders would have been pleased with this parable.
We are all shepherds of various sized flocks. For example, I am the shepherd of our cluster that has one thousand two hundred registered families. If I assume three people per family that equates to three thousand six hundred Catholics. This is a rather large sized flock. We are all involved with different flocks. A family is a flock. Your co-workers form a flock. You and your classmates are a flock. You and your next-door neighbors are a flock. As we go through life we drift in and out of various flocks. Sometimes you are the shepherd, other times you are part of the flock. Today we look at the qualifications of being a shepherd.
Trustworthy. Be a shepherd that other people can count on. When you make a promise to do something, do it. When others see that you can be trusted they will be encouraged to participate and be active members of the flock. They will also be more likely to listen to what you have to say about your faith in Jesus and His gospel message. They will want to follow your Christ-like example.
Loyal. When the flock is attacked, a good shepherd does not run from danger but towards it. They provide for the safety of the flock. Jesus is willing to lay down His life for His sheep. The best shepherds are those willing to sacrifice for the good of others.
Know where you are going. Stay the course. Trust in your faith. Follow the commandments. Be the example of Christ by loving, forgiving, extending mercy, caring for the least, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, praying always. Be the Christ like example every day. Smell like your sheep.
In our busy lives there are many times we are called to be the shepherd. God was tired of the shepherds in Ezekiel’s time. They were removed. Shepherds come and go, but those who are trustworthy, loyal, and focused on Jesus remain in our hearts forever. Follow the example given to us by Jesus.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen