Tìm Kiếm

10 tháng 5, 2014


(I am the good shepherd)

There are ideas and concepts which are either too abstract or too sublime that we can’t simply express by words, but we have to use symbols or images to express by way of comparison. For example to show how great the love of the mother, the Vietnamese say: “The love of a mother  is like the Pacific Ocean.” To address to  one’s lover, the Polish say:  my biscuit; the Czechs : my carrot; the Arabs : my cucumber; Britishers and Americans : my honey.

Even God uses pictures and comparison to express his love for us : As an eagle carries her young on her wings, so do I carry you; as the chicken covers her chicks under her wings, so the Lord covers you under his protection.  (Deut. 32, 11).

In today’s gospel, Christ compares himself to a shepherd who takes care of the flock. Certainly, it is not without reason that Christ calls himself by that name  “I am a good shepherd” because between the shepherd and the sheep there exists a very special, intimate, loyal and bilateral love which we do not find in other human relationships. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. Not so the hired hand or any other person who is not the shepherd and to whom the sheep do not belong. They abandon the sheep as soon as they see the wolf coming; then the wolf snatches and scatters the sheep. This is because the hired hand works for pay and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, I know my sheep and my sheep know me. Because of this I give my life for my sheep.” (John 10, 11-18).

We know how much Christ loved and cared for his people (the wedding at Cana; the multiplication of bread; the raising of the widowed mother’s son at Naim; Christ‘s cooking for his disciples at the beach). We also know how much he protected his disciples (Christ saved the adulterous woman from being stoned to death; Christ demanded the Jews to let free his disciples in the garden of olives). And of course, Christ suffered and died for us on the cross! He did all this just to show that he is the good shepherd.

Today the pope, bishops and priests all over the world are trying to take care of their flock in imitation of Jesus Christ, the Supreme Good Shepherd. Some even died for their flock. The late bishop Jean Cassaigne, former bishop of Saigon, was a good example. In 1955, at the age of sixty, he resigned; and instead of going back to France, his native country, to spend his oldage, he volunteered to remain in Vietnam serving the lepers at Di Linh Leprosarium. Finally, he contracted the disease and died of leprosy in 1973, after serving 18 years at the leprosarium.

Let us pray that the Church be given many good and zealous shepherds; that they may have the strength to govern wisely the flock entrusted to them by the Good Shepherd. That more and more young men and women be interested in the call of God, ready to commit themselves to the care and service of the flock of Christ.

Fr. Joseph Nguyen, O.P.