Very.Rev.Fr.Joychen Paranjattu, Rajkot Diocese
Jn 10 I am the good Shepherd
Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep”. These words are spoken with great authority that Jesus would lay down his life to save everyone from eternal damnation. We know that it is the duty of the shepherd to take care of the sheep: viz., to feed the sheep, to protect the sheep and to lead it towards the pasture. He guides the sheep. The sheep recognises the voice of the shepherd only. Jesus considers himself as the good shepherd. He was ready to give his life for the sheep. His fed his sheep with his own body and blood and gave them eternal life. He protected and guarded his sheep and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost (cf. Jn 18:9; 17:12). His teachings were the guiding lamps for every disciple. He taught them to be the light of the world that they would not walk in the darkness.
Jesus says: “I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father”. This speaks immensely of Jesus’ relationship with the believers. He knows everyone by name and calls them by name. It is almost equal to the relationship of Jesus with the Father. Just as they are one, so too, there is an intimate relationship between Jesus and the disciples. There is an invitation to belong to Jesus and to be known by him. If we go away from Jesus and if we reject his teachings, we ourselves prevent Jesus from knowing us. Such a person would fall into the traps set by the wolves and they would be lost forever. To be part of the divine plan of salvation, we need to belong to Jesus. Father had sent the son into the world to save us from the clutches of the evil one.
Jesus is ready to die to protect the sheep from the hands of the wolves. There is no feeling of belongingness for the hired servant. The hired hand has no personal contact with every sheep. If many wolves come to attack the sheep, he is not able to chase the wolves with the limited resources he has. He would leave the sheep and run away, and his sheep would be caught while others will be scattered. Jesus as the good shepherd wants everyone to be united and would not want divisions within the believers. However, in today’s world, we see a lot of divisions withinmany denominations of the Church. In 2019, a total of 272,771 German Catholics formally left the Church — more than ever before in the face of a “growing erosion and deterioration of faith”. It is here that we need to strengthen the faith of the believers and lead them to authentic pastures. The teachings of Jesus are before us in the form of the Scriptures. They are written down from his words and deeds. They give life to us and strengthen our relationship with the Lord. If we belong to him, we will really allow our souls to be fed by the word of God daily.
Jesus says: “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”. The Israelites were led by various prophets and Kings. However, many of them were false prophets. The Kings who were also like shepherds to the people often fed themselves and did not protect the people that they were scattered and lost. It was to be by the death and Resurrection of Jesus that the Gentiles were to listen to God’s word through the chosen apostles; that they too would-be part of the sheepfold. Unlike the prophets of the Old Testament, Jesus, who was even called ‘King of the Jews’ did not feed himself, but rather, emptied himself. He broke his own body and shed his blood to give life to all those who believe in him. He made them children of God. The gift of the Holy Eucharist and the sacraments have become green pastures upon which the believers can nourish their soul daily. Jesus invites us to the Eucharist and tells us: “Take, eat this is my body”, “Take, drink from this cup, this is my blood shed for you”. Jesus the good shepherd teaches us to empty ourselves like him to give life to our families, to our society, and to the world at large. Amen!