Jesus Knows us. Do we know Jesus?
Jesus says in this Sunday's Gospel: "I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me" (Jn 10:14). This verse has a depth to it worth exploring further. The verse declares and describes Jesus' identity and how that identity shapes his relationship with his followers. The image or metaphor of the shepherd and the sheep is found in many texts of the Old Testament. Prophet Ezekiel and the Psalms are good examples of Scriptures that speak of the coming Messiah in the image of a good shepherd who will lay down his life and provide for his flock. Jesus is the fulfillment of these prophecies. For example, He is the shepherd who provides and leads in Ps. 23 (22 in the Septuagint).
The relationship of the shepherd with his flock is a very intimate one. A shepherd knows his sheep from other shepherd's sheep. They recognize his voice when he calls them out from the cave where they are kept away from wolves and other dangerous animals. This familiarity and closeness derive from the shepherd's sacrificial giving of his life in the protection and nourishment of the sheep. Intimacy and friendship describe how Jesus, the good shepherd is to us his followers. He knows us in and out, and we, too, are supposed to know him and follow him. Do we always recognize and follow him? Unfortunately, we don't always.
To know him who knows us is to pay attention to his voice. His voice is heard in the Scriptures. He is present in the Sacraments. He is found in holy and faithful Christians in our church. His voice speaks to us through the teaching organ of the church, the Magisterium. The Holy Spirit reveals him to us in our prayers. Do we listen to Him so that we may be rightly guided and protected? Do we know him who knows us? Let us take a moment to reflect on his words and presence. Let us pause from time to time to listen to him today and throughout this week. He is the risen Christ who shepherds us to true joy and peace. Shepherd us, O Lord, lead us to our mission and purpose in this life. Raise new shepherds for your flock, Risen Lord. May the Holy Spirit inspire men and women to follow Jesus in the vocation to the priesthood and religious life.
Happy Good Shepherd Sunday!
In Christ the Good Shepherd,
Fr. Bernard, OP