How do Jesus use shepherd as an example?

by May Tam

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 2:14A, 36-41

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed: “Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do, my brothers?” Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.” He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.

1 Peter 2:20B-25


If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.

When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten; instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

John 10:1-10

Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

During Jesus' earthly ministry, He alluded Himself to many figures by using different parables. In this Sunday's Gospel, He was the shepherd and the gate. Today instead of reflecting on these images of Jesus, let us take a look at the sheep themselves.

Surely Jesus is the gate, the entrance to eternal life and the good shepherd. He loves His flock and cares for them that whoever enters by Him will be saved. When we received the sacrament of baptism, we become His sheep. Theologically, we are not only being saved but are also safe as well. However Jesus alerted us of thieves and bandits, that is, in reality we always have the danger of being harmed

From Jesus' words, we know how the sheep behaved. They knew their shepherd's voice, they heard and listened to it. They followed their shepherd and ran away from strangers. In other word, they only responded to their shepherd whom they recognized.

To be safe in Jesus' sheepfold, we too have to imitate the sheep. We have to know His voice through the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church, the Pope, the Magisterium, the saints and our priests. However it is not enough just to know the voice. We have to listen attentively, that is, be responsive as the sheep. They followed their shepherd when he called them and followed him only. We too should follow only Jesus' voice and do not swerve or be distracted: “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings” (Hebrews 13:9). When the sheep encountered strangers, they ran away from them. When we find ourselves in danger of losing our faith or being battered by temptations or doubts, take refuge in Jesus the true shepherd. Do not imperil ourselves by taking chance or give in to allurements. We should always be vigilant and prudent for our own safety.

Let us remember that the cooperation and the willingness of the sheep to be saved are as important as having a good shepherd or a strong sheepfold. Be a wise sheep and lost not---through one's own fault!