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The Good Shepherd should inspire us to sacrifice for others

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Philip Kosloski - published on 04/20/24

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is the prime example for us in the Christian life, as he challenges us to imitate him in his sacrificial offering of himself.

Sometimes we can get caught-up in the calm, pleasant pictures of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. He often looks so gentle and peaceful in a field, or holding a small lamb.

While it is true that Jesus is that calm and gentle shepherd, he is also a shepherd who is bold and courageous, willing to give his life for others.

Pope Benedict XVI highlighted this aspect of the Good Shepherd in his 2012 homily on Good Shepherd Sunday:

This year the Gospel passage is the central one from Chapter 10 of John and begins precisely with Jesus’ affirmation: “I am the Good Shepherd.”

This is immediately followed by the first fundamental characteristic: “the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11). So, we are led straight to the centre, to the summit of the revelation of God as the Shepherd of his people; this centre and summit is Jesus, Jesus himself who dies on the cross and rises from the tomb on the third day, rises with all his humanity and thereby involves us, every man and woman, in his passage from death to life. 

While primarily speaking to young men to be ordained priests, Pope Benedict XVI’s words still apply to us, who are called to imitate the offering of Jesus, the Good Shepherd:

Dear Ordinands, this is where the Good Shepherd wishes to lead us! It is here that the priest is called to lead the faithful entrusted to his care: to true life, to life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). Let us therefore return to the Gospel and to the Parable of the Good Shepherd. “The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11). Jesus insists on this essential trait of the Good Shepherd who is he himself: that of “laying down his life.” He repeats it three times and at the end concludes with the words: “for this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father” (Jn 10:17-18).

Not all of us will be asked to make this supreme gift of self in the sacrifice of our life, but we are all called to imitate the Good Shepherd in our realms of influence.

We may be called to be a charitable gift of self in our families, schools, or even in a nursing home as we near the end of our life.

No matter what our situation may be, we can always sacrifice ourselves for others, being charitable to those around us as the Good Shepherd is charitable to us.

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BibleEasterJesus Christ
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