Laudetur Jesus Christus!
Gelobt sei Jesus Christus!
Praised be Jesus Christ!
The image of Christ as the Good Shepherd has always been a powerful image within the Church. This Fourth Sunday of Easter has been traditionally called Good Shepherd Sunday, on account of the Gospel read at Mass.
We hear in the Gospel today that Christ is the Good Shepherd because he is not simply a worker who has been hired to tend the sheep. A worker who is tempted to not put his own life at risk to save the sheep. Rather, Christ is the Shepherd, we are His sheep and He is our Lord. Not only is Christ willing to lay down his life for His sheep, willing to stand up to the wolves that seek to devour us, but He actually has given up His life for us.
This is what has separated a worker from the Shepherd. In a particular way, this image of Christ the Good Shepherd has been the model for priests. As we prepare to enter into this ordination time of year, it is appropriate that the Church presents to us this holy image of Christ.
Priests are called to be like Christ the Good Shepherd, willing to lay down their lives for the flock that has been entrusted to them. This doesn’t just mean to physically give up one’s life, but to be willing to bear the burdens and difficulties as well. Priests are called to share in the good times, as well as the bad times of the flock they tend. They are called to encourage when appropriate, and to correct when necessary. They need to always be on guard for the things that will lead the flock away from Christ, who is the true and good Shepherd.
This is certainly no easy task, and priests (myself included) fail frequently. We have been given such a Good Shepherd that to live up to his example is impossible. However, through the grace of Holy Orders, through the prayers and support of the people, and after the example of Christ priests have been making Christ the Good Shepherd active throughout the world for over 2,000 years.
Please pray for priests and those who will be ordained priests this spring. Pray that they may be more like Christ, the Good Shepherd.
Have a blessed week ahead!