“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”
Several years ago, when I was an associate pastor at Gesu Parish in Milwaukee, I remember preaching on Good Shepherd Sunday. That Sunday as I walked up and down the long aisle going on and on about the Jesus as the Good Shepherd, unbeknownst to me and to her parents, a toddler had slipped away and began wandering the long aisleway. As she drew further away from her parents, she became confused and lost. Suddenly, stuck in my tracks, I looked down and saw the toddler, who had wrapped her arms around my alb and legs. I picked her up into my arms and returned her to her parents.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is deeply committed to us. He will go to the wall for us and even lay down his life for us. He watches out for us. He gathers those who are lost and returns them home.
Remember a time when all hope was lost, and out of nowhere consolation abounded. Let us give thanks to the Good Shepherd, who is always watching out for us.
—Fr. Mike Bayard, SJ, is the Socius of the USA West Provinceof the Society of Jesus.
The LORD is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack. In green pastures you let me graze;
to safe waters you lead me;
you restore my strength.
You guide me along the right path
for the sake of your name.
Even when I walk through a dark valley,
I fear no harm for you are at my side;
your rod and staff give me courage.