The Shepherd and His Sheep (St. John 10)

In today's gospel passage, we come across an image that runs through the pages of the Bible. This is the image of the shepherd and his sheep. We find that this was very effective in both Old and New Testament times. Not only in those days, for even today in the 21st century in many parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East this lesson still applies as effectively in countries where many people are pastors who look after their animals for their livelihood.

First, let’s try to understand the ways in which Old and New Testament writers have used this concept. Primarily it was used to explain the relationship between leaders and people and to show the responsibilities of leaders in society.

Who were the main leaders, in Biblical times Mainly there were three kinds of leaders - kings, priests, and prophets. The kings were temporal leaders, the priests were religious leaders and the prophets were advisors to the leaders and social reformers.

In many places in the Bible writers have shown us good and bad shepherds. The good shepherds were always with their sheep. They went in front of the sheep and led them to green pastures. They looked after and protected them from harm and danger. But the bad shepherds were often hired, by men. They were not so much concerned about the sheep as about earning wages to live.

I think in the context of various political issues this is an appropriate subject to be discussed so we have a proper understanding of the expectations we should have of our potential leaders. What do we expect from our leaders? If we were to give a very simple answer, this would be that we expect our leaders to look after us well. Or in other words, we expect a pastoral ministry from leaders - for them to understand our heartbeat, so to speak. We should expect from our leaders the ministries performed by kings, priests, and prophets.

Some of you may be thinking that it is impossible to expect such ministries from our leaders. Let me explain what I mean. Good kings looked after people as their own children and protected them from harm and danger. Good kings were even ready to sacrifice their lives for their people. Priests were the people who were between God and people. They guided people toward effective and healthy values, attitudes, ethics, and morals. Prophets guided the leaders and when there were social injustices they directed people to reform society.

I think even today we need these three kinds of ministry from our leaders. There are some who say that politics and religion should not be mixed. But the reality is that whether we like it or not they are always mixed in the society we live in. The root meaning of the word “politics” shows this, for it comes from the Greek word “polis” which means a civilized place

Electing our political leaders is really a spiritual matter, and I believe it is a Christian responsibility to elect leaders who are able to perform these kingly, priestly, and prophetic ministries.

Let us ask God to give us his grace to choose our leaders according to his will for the benefit of society.

May God bless you! Amen.

A reflection

As the Good Shepherd Jesus made the supreme sacrifice on the cross

When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God! All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did ever such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.