“I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” —John 10:11
“I am the Good Shepherd. I know My sheep and My sheep know Me.” —John 10:14
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and we are His sheep. To be called a sheep is not a compliment. Sheep are sheepish, that is, backward and timid. Sheep can’t even eat grass without destroying the field where the grass grows. That’s one of the reasons they need shepherds to move them elsewhere. When Jesus called us “sheep,” He implied that we weren’t just weak but helpless. Without Him we can do nothing (Jn 15:5).
We sheep, who are so pathetic, have a hard time living under the easiest circumstances. What will we do in difficult and dangerous circumstances? Thieves are coming “only to steal and slaughter and destroy” us (Jn 10:10). Wolves are trying to snatch, scatter, and kill us (Jn 10:12). Some of these wolves are in sheep’s clothing (Mt 7:15), so some of those we consider our friends are actually our enemies. Furthermore, some of our shepherds upon whom we are counting to protect us are merely hired hands who will abandon us and leave us to be slaughtered (Jn 10:12).
We sheep are simple, weak, and in a “heap of trouble.” Our only Hope is Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Follow Jesus.
Prayer: Jesus, Good Shepherd, lead me through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps 23:4, RSV-CE).
Promise: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God! Yet that is what we are.” —1 Jn 3:1
Praise: Praise Jesus, Who holds “the keys of death and the nether world” (Rv 1:18). Praise You, Good Shepherd, that no one can snatch us out of Your hand (Jn 10:28). Alleluia forever!
From a homily on the Gospels
by Saint Gregory the Great [ 590 – 604 A.D.], pope
I am the good shepherd. I know my own – by which I mean, I love them – and my own know me. In plain words: those who love me are willing to follow me, for anyone who does not love the truth has not yet come to know it.
My dear brethren, you have heard the test we pastors have to undergo. Turn now to consider how these words of our Lord imply a test for yourselves also. Ask yourselves whether you belong to his flock, whether you know him, whether the light of his truth shines in your minds. I assure you that it is not by faith that you will come to know him, but by love; not by mere conviction, but by action. John the evangelist is my authority for this statement. He tells us that anyone who claims to know God without keeping his commandments is a liar.
Consequently, the Lord immediately adds: As the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep. Clearly he means that laying down his life for his sheep gives evidence of his knowledge of the Father and the Father’s knowledge of him. In other words, by the love with which he dies for his sheep he shows how greatly he loves his Father.
Again he says: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them; they follow me, and I give them eternal life. Shortly before this he had declared: If anyone enters the sheepfold through me he shall be saved; he shall go freely in and out and shall find good pasture. He will enter into a life of faith; from faith he will go out to vision, from belief to contemplation, and will graze in the good pastures of everlasting life.
So our Lord’s sheep will finally reach their grazing ground where all who follow him in simplicity of heart will feed on the green pastures of eternity. These pastures are the spiritual joys of heaven. There the elect look upon the face of God with unclouded vision and feast at the banquet of life for ever more.
Beloved brothers, let us set out for these pastures where we shall keep joyful festival with so many of our fellow citizens. May the thought of their happiness urge us on! Let us stir up our hearts, rekindle our faith, and long eagerly for what heaven has in store for us. To love thus is to be already on our way. No matter what obstacles we encounter, we must not allow them to turn us aside from the joy of that heavenly feast. Anyone who is determined to reach his destination is not deterred by the roughness of the road that leads to it. Nor must we allow the charm of success to seduce us, or we shall be like a foolish traveller who is so distracted by the pleasant meadows through which he is passing that he forgets where he is going.
“Bow humbly under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may lift you high.” —1 Peter 5:6
John Mark, later known to the world as St. Mark, learned about the power of communal prayer when he saw Peter miraculously freed from prison through the prayers of those gathered at his mother’s house (Acts 12:12ff).
John Mark learned about serving the poor and building unity between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians when he accompanied Barnabas and Paul on a relief mission (Acts 12:25).
John Mark learned about spiritual warfare and his own weaknesses when he quit the first missionary journey of the early Church (Acts 13:13).
John Mark learned that we don’t always get a second chance when Paul refused to take him on a second missionary journey (Acts 15:38). He learned that we sometimes do get a second chance when Barnabas took him on a missionary journey (Acts 15:39). John Mark learned more about Jesus and His Church when he was spiritually adopted by Peter (1 Pt 5:13).
John Mark learned about Jesus, the Church, prayer, the poor, unity, mission, people, and life. Then the Lord chose John Mark to write one of the Gospels. The Holy Spirit graced John Mark to write some of the most important words ever written.
The Lord is teaching you now. If you learn your lessons, you will see the Holy Spirit work through you in wondrous ways.
Prayer: Father, may I be docile every day.
Promise: “The Lord continued to work with them throughout and confirm the message through the signs which accompanied them.” —Mk 16:20
Praise: The world heard the good news in the form of a gospel from the pen of John Mark. St. Mark began a new era in evangelization when he wrote: “Here begins the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1).