On Good Shepherd Sunday we see ourselves as the flock of the Lord, the sheep who follow Him in obedience and are led to green pastures. The flock is the Holy Catholic Church, and the green pastures are her Sacraments, her Holy Scriptures, and her truthful teachings and carefully guarded traditions that have come down to us from the Apostles. Those who try to live without them end up in the lair of the wolf - the devil, and are lost, whereas the faithful sheep are led to the eternally green pastures of Heaven.
For our better understanding, there is an important difference between the western style of shepherding and the oriental style, with which Our Lord was familiar. In the west the sheep are driven to pasture, often with the assistance of a sheep dog like the famous "Lassie" of the movies. Our Lord spoke of the oriental style of shepherding in which the sheep are led. The sheep hear the voice of the shepherd and they follow, because they know the sound of the shepherd's voice. Sheep are intelligent animals that love their shepherd. This is what we must think of when we hear Christ say: "I am the Good Shepherd, and I know Mine and Mine know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for My sheep" (John 10:14,15).
What must the Lord's sheep do? They must hear the Shepherd's voice and follow Him, observing His life so as to become like Him. "No disciple is above his teacher," said Jesus, "but when perfected, everyone will be like his teacher" (Luke 6:40). The obedient sheep of Jesus Christ treasure His every word and ponder every aspect of His life as revealed in the Gospels, so as to be able to say with St. Paul, "It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh, I live in the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20).
And how must the sheep behave towards one another? St. John tells us in this well-known passage from his first epistle: "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God. And everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. In this has the love of God been shown in our case, that God has sent His only-begotten Son into the world that we may live through Him. In this is the love, not that we have loved God, but that He has first loved us, and sent His Son a propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God has so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:7-11).
It was said of the first believers that they were "of one heart and one soul…" (Acts 4:32). Today those who are constantly seeking their so-called "rights" while their obligations are seriously neglected, have a problem understanding this. But the Christian Community, meaning the Holy Catholic Church, is the one place where the common good is served, while the individual person achieves his greatest potential in putting the needs of the community before his own needs, even to the extent of giving up his own life. This is the greatest love of all. This is what Jesus did in laying down His life for His sheep.
Without love and sacrifice the true Christian Community cannot exist. When Jesus washed the feet of His Apostles He said: "Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Master and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If, therefore, I the Lord and Master have washed your feet, you also ought to wash the feet of one another. For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you also should do" (John 13:12-15).
Our Lord told a parable of the ninety-nine faithful sheep and the one that strayed, but today we see the whole flock being scattered. It is the time of the wolves. The shepherds whom the Lord appointed to care for the flock in His absence have their eyes on the world, feeding themselves first instead of caring for the flock. They should be feeding the sheep with sound doctrine, but all they can deliver is the poison of heresy, so that the sheep are perishing. They are seldom warned about sin and Hell. They assume, despite the clear teaching of Christ and His true Church, that everyone is going to Heaven. Are they not trying now to find a place there for Judas Iscariot? Even Satan is now in line for rehabilitation. And through the Masonic doctrine of the brotherhood of all men and the practice of a false ecumenism the sheep are being led to religious indifferentism resulting in the loss of their Catholic faith.
The Lord, speaking through the Prophet Ezechiel, has strong words for unworthy shepherds:
"Thus saith the Lord God: Woe to the shepherds of Israel that fed themselves!… You ate the milk and you clothed yourselves with the wool and you killed that which was fat: but my flock you did not feed… And My sheep were scattered because there was no shepherd: and they became the prey of all the beasts of the field and were scattered. My sheep have wandered in every mountain and in every high hill: and My flocks were scattered upon the face of the earth… As the shepherd visiteth his flock in the day when he shall be in the midst of his sheep that were scattered, so will I visit My sheep and will deliver them out of all the places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day… And I will set up one shepherd over them: and he shall feed them, even My servant David the prince (Jesus Christ, Son of David) in the midst of them. I the Lord have spoken it" (Ezechiel 34: 2,3;5;12;23).
St. Paul encourages us: "If, therefore, there is any comfort in Christ, any encouragement from charity, any fellowship in the Spirit, any feelings of mercy, fill up my joy by thinking alike, having the same charity, with one soul and one mind. Do nothing out of contentiousness or out of vainglory, but in humility let each one regard the others as his superiors, each one looking not to his own interests but to those of others" (Philippians 2:1-4).
And St. Peter calls us to be a faithful flock: "…Christ also has suffered for you, leaving you an example that you may follow in His steps: 'Who did no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.' Who, when he was reviled, did not revile, when he suffered, did not threaten, but yielded himself to him who judged him unjustly; who himself bore our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died to sin, might live to justice; and by His stripes you were healed. For you were as sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls" (1 Peter 2:21-25).