29 April 2007

GOOD SHEEP AND GOOD SHEPHERDS

4th Sunday of Easter
Jn 10:27-30

In the Philippines, we rarely see sheep in real life. Many of us are familiar with this very fragile animal through still photos and motion pictures only. But we do have sheep in the Philippines. When I was still studying at the Ateneo, I used to see a handful of sheep grazing in the vacant lot of the neighboring U. P. Diliman campus, along Carlos Garcia road. In Bukidnon, there are also sheep. I saw many of them pasturing in the alps-look-alike slopes of beautiful Malaybalay. Because I stayed in Bukidnon for nine months and did apostolate in several mountain parishes, I was able to observe sheep at close distance. Here are three main conclusions from my close observation of this very fragile breed.

First, sheep are nearsighted animals. They literally see only up to the tip of their noses. Thus, they easily get lost.

Second, sheep are very docile animals. They obey easily even when being led to slaughter. Thus, they can be easy prey to the wild beasts or to robbers.

Third, despite their nearsightedness and docility, sheep are wise animals. They do not follow strangers. Thus, they know their true shepherd.

Because they are nearsighted, docile, but wise animals, sheep need shepherds. They rely heavily on their shepherds. Without their shepherds they get lost, they are stolen, they go hungry and thirsty, or they simply end up in the bowels of some beasts waiting for the perfect timing to devour them.

But how do sheep know their shepherd? Every sheep knows the voice of its shepherd. It is amazing but very rarely can anyone deceive a sheep by mimicking its shepherd’s voice. A sheep never follows a stranger.

With the above conclusions from my personal observation on sheep, I understand better why Jesus used the image of a shepherd and sheep in teaching us about our relationship with Him. He is our Shepherd and we are His sheep.

Many times in life, we are nearsighted creatures, too. We cannot see fully what lies beyond today. We can only speculate; and even our scientific prediction about what may happen tomorrow remain tentative until things actually happen. Even our experiences today change and deviate from what we expected yesterday. We always need to be led. We are creatures and are therefore dependent on our Creator.

Because we need to be led, we must be docile. We can only be led as much as we follow the leading. Unless we obey, we cannot be led. The way may be pointed to us, the methods may be taught to us, the results may be explained to us, but we have to trust and actually go where we are being led, do what we are being told, and learn what is being explained to us. To be docile means to be obedient.

But how can we obey Jesus if we do not know His voice? His voice speaks of love – true love, everlasting love, sacrificial love, life-giving love. Any voice that speaks otherwise can never be Jesus’. Let us not be deceived by false shepherds because they are many and very cunning. There is only one Good Shepherd after whom every genuine shepherd should be configured.

Today, the Fourth Sunday of Easter is also called “Good Shepherd Sunday”. We offer special prayers and sacrifices to God for the shepherds of the Church. May our priests and bishops be shepherds according to the heart of Jesus, the Good Shepherd Himself.

The Gospel today, however, moves us to pray and offer sacrifices to God for the sheep as well. May everyone who belongs to the sheepfold of Jesus always listen to His voice and follow Him with total trust and confidence. May no one be lost.

As Jesus entrusts His sheepfold to human shepherds, may all who belong to it love and obey their pastors as they would Jesus. Remember: While every sheep needs a good shepherd so too does every shepherd need good sheep.

2 Comments:

At 10:38 AM , Anonymous Bubut said...

Father God, bless us that we will be able to follow you Son and recognize His voice. Bless us your sheep and also pray for the Shepherds of our Church.

God bless po.

 
At 1:09 PM , Anonymous mtmd said...

May I always recognize Jesus' voice in my everyday journey in life.
God bless Father! Hope there are many people who will read this blog of yours...

 

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