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Friday, June 8, 2007

Jesus, Our Good Shepherd

Benedict XVI in his new book on Jesus of Nazareth describes several motifs found in the discourse of the shepherd in the tenth chapter of John's Gospel: the Shepherd is life for the sheep; the shepherd lays down his life for the sheep; the Shepherd and the flock know one another; the Shepherd calls all to unity so there shall be one flock, one Shepherd.
I will quote from the Pope's commentary on the second and third motif. The Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep; a free gift of his very self: "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. (Jn 10:14 f.) Here Jesus interprets for us what happens at the institution of the Eucharist. Jesus does not give "something", but rather he gives himself. And that is how he gives life.
The Shepherd and the flock know one another. "He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out . . . The sheep follow him, for they know his voice. (Jn 10:13f.)
I am the Good Shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep." (Jn 10:14 f.) The mutual knowing of the Shepherd and sheep is interwoven with the mutual knowing of Father and Son.

This should give us much to reflect upon as we prepare for both the Feast of Corpus Christi this Sunday and the Feast of the Sacred Heart next Friday.

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