|The Shepherd of Disciples|
|Written by Michael Fones|
|Friday, 11 April 2008 09:16|
Here's a brief reflection on the Scriptures for this Sunday...
Being known as a sheep is generally not considered a good career move. How many job descriptions do you read in the paper that begin, "Wanted: good follower, not too intelligent, relatively helpless prey for predatory competitors"? But we are, in fact, not too impressive on our own - or even in a group - without the Good Shepherd. Jesus knows where fallen human nature, left to itself, leads – and it isn't pretty!
It is precisely the intentional disciple of Jesus, the Christian who has placed his or her life in the hands of the Good Shepherd, who is able to accomplish good, even great, things. Not because they have greater natural talents, skills, money, or opportunities, but because they become daily collaborators with Jesus, and his power and grace begin to work through them.
This is because at our baptism God gave us spiritual gifts, called charisms in Greek, that are given to us for the benefit of other people. They become 'activated', if you will, when our relationship with Jesus becomes personal; when we begin to realize he is someone Who loves us and who desires to be involved in our every decision, every conversation, every good activity.
Ironically, when we begin to enter into this deeply personal relationship with our Good Shepherd, we begin to stand out from the herd! He calls us by name. In Jesus' day to know someone's name, or to name someone or something meant that you knew something essential to that person or thing, and even had some authority over it. This is why it's very significant when Jesus renames Simon "the Rock", or why Jesus asks the name of the spirit afflicting the Gerasene demoniac (Lk 8:30). It also indicates how God humbles Himself by responding to Moses' request to know His name (Ex 3:14).
So when Jesus says the Good Shepherd calls his sheep by name (Jn 10:3), it means that he knows who I am in my deepest core. He knows what I can do, and what I can best be. When I choose to follow him as his disciple, it means that I give him authority over me. And it is then that he begins to work through me to change the lives of the people and institutions around me in a way that is unique to me.
Jesus calls all of his sheep. That means we all have a vocation (from the Latin vocare "to call"). And responding to that call will guarantee we find the deepest meaning and purpose of our life in some unique work of his love in the world. And that work will be to us a rich, verdant pasture.