“I lay down my life…” (John 10:15)
These repeated words of Jesus in the gospel of John – the Good Shepherd – give an emphasis that Jesus offered, gave, shared, and totally dedicated His life for the people. The Good Shepherd is the prominent icon, the example of a good leader, the one who loves and takes care of His flock. He gives everything of Himself to us, the members of His sheepfold. Even to those not belonging to His flock, He gives attention and is concerned for them.
Jesus acknowledges that He is the Good Shepherd. He owned it as He is the One. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life because of His great love for us. When we go astray, He spends time searching for us, wherever we are. His heart is restless to look for us, the lost ones. Jesus the Good Shepherd always abides with us in those times when we are in great need and in trouble. No matter how far away we are He searches for us in the ‘nowhere places’ and stretches out His hand to gently catch hold of us and lead us back home with Him. He will never leave His flock unattended. That is why He immediately searches for and rescues those who have gone astray from the flock. This is one of the essential qualities of the Good Shepherd.
As a selfless leader. Jesus leads His flock along the right path so that we will not walk in darkness. He is a leader who knows His people, who gives His total service for the good of His people. He listens to the voice of His people as He knows them well because He stays with them.
This is our call. If we have people entrusted to our care we have to take care of them like the Good Shepherd, tirelessly doing a good service for them, giving our total dedication to God and others. We must continue to be formed to have a big heart like that of the Good Shepherd, always keeping in touch with Him through our intentions and actions. He claims us to be His own. He has a great concern for each member of His flock. We belong to Him.
When we pray for the Church leaders, government leaders and other officials, and to all those with people entrusted to their care, we ask God that they follow the example of the Good Shepherd, whose heart is filled with love, compassion and mercy for others. The love of a leader is not only for their self, for their family or those near to them. The leader needs to have a big heart that has room for everybody. We continue praying for these leaders who we believe have been chosen for their capacity to lead. We see in them their goodness of heart and soul. We pray that these leaders may have wisdom and understanding to guide and assist us in moments of difficulties. We pray for them that they may overcome their weaknesses. We also pray to accept them in their limitations and we collaborate with them when they are in need of our help. We pray that they will accept that they are not perfect persons – perfection is possible if they continue follow Jesus the Good Shepherd because with Him everything is possible. Our divine Good Shepherd will lead us back to our eternal home with God.
One fold and one shepherd
O holy Apostles,
we beseech You to obtain
for the holy Church
the gift of the evangelical workers.
We ask You this grace
for the love of that adorable Jesus
who has chosen you from among thousands,
for the sweetest charity
with which You instructed and suffered,
for the merits of His sorrowful
Passion and death, for the joy
of which You were filled that You seem to ascend;
for the holy divine Spirit
which was sent upon You,
for the most special grace
with which You were protected,
enlightened, sustained and guided You
in all Your apostolic ministry.
Remember that divine command
Which was directed to you saying:
“The harvest is truly plentiful,
but the labourers are few:
pray therefore the Lord of the Harvest
that He may send good labourers in His harvest”.
Obey still from heaven
to this divine command;
pray that the divine mercy
grants to all people,
in spite of every human unworthiness,
abundance of holy evangelical labourers,
in such a way that with faith propagated,
the kingdom of Satan destroyed,
the kingdom of God established in the souls,
the Church of Jesus Christ triumphs
in all the world,
and there be but one fold
and one shepherd.
(United in prayer pp.370-371)
Today is the 55th World Day of Prayer for Vocations – read Pope Francis’ message for this special day of prayer.