The recurring references in the New Testament to shepherds might be difficult for us to relate to given that we no longer live in a time where tending sheep is a common occupation. Having said that, Jesus uses the image of the Good Shepherd to teach us of the compassion and mercy of God, something that we all need. In the gospel today Jesus gives us a glimpse of just how committed God is to calling us back to union with Him.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father.
Jesus foretells of his ultimate sacrifice for our sake. This is how much our God loves us, that he will do anything to give us eternal life, even to the point of allowing the death of his son.
He is the good shepherd. All he asks us is that we love one another.
Are we not abundantly blessed?