Both sheep and shepherd PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 24 August 2017 13:46




IT’S good that we develop a sense of the pastoral. And that’s simply because our earthly condition can be likened to pastoral life. Truth is we are all both sheep and shepherd, both to be taken care of and to be nourished, on the one hand, and also to take care and to nourish each other, on the other hand.

That is why Christ frequently made use of the pastoral imagery in his preaching. “I am the good shepherd,” he said once, “I know my own and my own know me.” (Jn 10,14)

In other parts of the gospel, he is also described as a sheep, or to be more precise, as a lamb. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” St. John the Baptist said. (Jn 1,29) He is, of course, the sacrificial lamb par excellence.

But he is a lamb that is also a shepherd in the sense that, as expressed in the Book of Revelation, 144,000 others were with him. (cfr 14,1)

Conformed to Christ, we have to be both sheep and shepherd, both to be guided and to guide, following the same process of receiving and giving that characterizes our whole earthly life.

As good shepherd, Christ lays down his life for his sheep. He contrasts himself to the hireling. The latter “sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees.”

As members of the Church founded by Christ, we form one sheepfold whose door is Christ himself. We are a flock taken care of by Christ as the good shepherd, and we also take care of one another. Yes, we are also a shepherd to each other, being so in the name of Christ.

We have to understand that we ought to develop a keen sense of the pastoral. We both have to learn and to teach, to be led and to lead, to be offered like the sacrificial lamb and to be the offerer himself.

We have to understand that this sense of the pastoral involves all of us, and not just the priests and bishops. It’s for the clergy, the laity and the religious. We all take part in the continuing mission of the Christ and of the Church, which is the salvation of man, though in different ways.

As sheep and lamb, we have to try our best to learn everything about our faith and to live it to the full. Christ has given us everything already that we need to know. He has given us all the means we need to be who we ought to be—nothing less than another Christ.

Like the sheep and the lamb, we have to be docile and meek. We have to be willing to be sacrificed too, because with all the sins of men, we cannot avoid having to suffer, and we have to suffer willingly.

As shepherd, we have to learn how to help others get closer to God. We do it by all means—by word or example. We have to learn how to give spiritual direction to others, starting with those close to us.