Good Shepherd Sunday | Year B

Posted on abril 19, 2024 View all Gospel Reflection

Good Shepherds have a heart for their flock Jeremiah 3:15.  E.g. Since ancient times, shepherds have made music to calm their flocks, scare off predators, communicate with other shepherds, and pass the time. Three standard shepherd’s instruments are attested in the Bible: lyre, flute, and horn (shofar).1

The shofar was invented by shepherd for herding animals when human shouts could not be heard because of the wind. It is important to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit leading one forward in service. In contrast, shouts from behind that try to drive cattle like a cowboy or cowgirl on horses- driving the cattle to market from behind is a controlling image of leadership.2

We may make mistakes for a long, long time and to go on in our sins, and then the mercy of God reaches out and says, “Now is the time for your breakthrough,” and the Good Shepherd takes us to his flock, carrying us in the shepherd’s arms.

The truth is that we are all sheep and some of us are shepherds in the Church and all of us are shepherds over those in our care.

Working on the image of the shepherd in the Bible, André Wénin shows that every human being must become the “shepherd of his or her own animality.”3 In other words, shepherds need constant conversion and growth.

John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” Craig Keener says: “A quick quiz: Who is the thief? When I ask my students this question, they almost always give the same answer: «The Devil.» The problem is that the Devil doesn’t appear anywhere in the context of the verse.4

The thief is not the devil per se but leaders and teachers who want the church’s members and influence for themselves. 2 Pet. 2-3

E.g. New age—a false mysticism were religion is learned as a sentiment from within, so Catholic Christianity is doctrineless.

Perhaps called a “more pastoral approach” by downplaying doctrine and dogma, taking a looser line on ethics (especially sexual ethics).Their pastoral failure is not preaching on the morals of the Church. They do not call out sin or identify error.”5

In reality, to speak pastorally is derived from the authority of the whole Christ in Jesus and his Body the Church, and the Magisterium.

Lastly, there are problems with sheep too.

Cattle ranchers were much better armed than shepherds in the old West on public lands. Ranchers killed thousands of sheep and some shepherds too. They were angry that sheep overgrazed low-elevation cattle land. This made the range unsuitable for cattle.5 Too much video games and not enough serious study, losing the ability to really concentrate in serious study. Sheepherders are accused of cutting fences and stealing grass. Juvenile crime. John Muir famously called sheep “hoofed locusts.” Later, frustrated with continued damage in his beloved Yosemite Valley, Muir concluded, “As sheep advance, flowers, vegetation, grass, soil, plenty, and poetry vanish.”6. Negative peer pressure that leads to shoplifting instead of questioning if this group of so-called friends has goals in life compatible with yours?

In sum, when sheep are left to their own devices, they will destroy pasture and harm themselves both in health and in their souls.

They need Shepherds or Shepherdesses with a heart.

1,2.  Jonathan L. Friedmann, Shepherd’s Instruments, Jewish Bible Quarterly Vol. 49, 2 

Journal, June 08, 2023

3. Chi Ai Nguyen Chi, How Did Joseph Become the Shepherd of his Brothers? Science et Esprit, 74 no 2 – 3 May – Dec 2022, p 205

4. Craig Keener, Who Comes to Steal, Kill, and Destroy?, Christianity Today, 03/17/2017

5.Terence Sweeney, The Pastoral Mystery of the Church, Church Life

6.  Adam M. Sowards, Why Sheep Started so many Wars in the American West; 10/05/2017