In today’s gospel we see Jesus proclaiming himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. The shepherd image conveys the personal nature of the relationship between Jesus and his followers; it portrays the close personal care and the love that the shepherd has for the sheep. For the shepherd all the sheep are important and precious. He has gone as far as he could to looking for the one sheep that wandered off. After having found it, he takes it over his shoulders back to the flock with great joy. Between the shepherd and this one sheep that was lost there is a close bond of unity and love. Jesus the Good Shepherd wants to know us as his own and we must try to be His own and know him, just as the Father knows him and he knows the Father. Nothing we do can make Him give up on us; rather He wants each of us to be found, to be loved, to be forgiven, and to be brought home.
When it comes to the Lord we are not just one of a crowd, unidentified and lost somewhere. No. In a way that we will never fully understand, the Lord knows each one of us by name; he relates to us in a personal way and he invites us to relate to him in a personal way; and he wishes to enter into a personal relationship with each one of us. When Jesus says in today’s gospel that, as the good shepherd, ‘I lay down my life for my sheep’, he is saying that he lays down his life for each one of us individually.
Today is also called Vocations Sunday. The Lord has a plan for each of us and He needs each one of us for something special. He calls us in our uniqueness despite our limits and our weaknesses. Each person in this church can do something for the Lord that only he or she can do. We each have a unique vocation and each vocation is equally significant and vitally important to the Lord.
Today more than ever before, the Lord wants to find us and He needs us to be his voice, his feet, his hands, and his presence in the world. On this Vocations Sunday let us commit ourselves again to hearing and responding to the call of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
May God bless you all!
Fr. Anthonio Jean