The Good Shepherd’s Flock
Why did Jesus say that He is the Good Shepherd in John 10?
John 10 is a continuation of John 9; therefore, Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees who spoke against Him after He cured the man born blind on a Sabbath. Jesus likens the Pharisees as thieves and robbers – those who do not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but climb over to get to the sheep; they also come only to steal and slaughter and destroy (cf. John 10:1,10). On the other hand, Jesus declares Himself as the gate, so that whoever enters through Him will be saved (cf. John 10:9). Jesus also declares Himself as the Good Shepherd – He came so that His sheep might have life and have it more abundantly; He is the One who lays down His life for His sheep (cf. John 10:10-11).
Sometime earlier, Jesus declared Himself as the Light of the world. The Pharisees and other unbelieving Jews spoke against Jesus, so He said to them: “You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) By opposing Jesus and convincing others to oppose Jesus, they (i.e., the Pharisees and other unbelieving Jews) bring death rather than life; they steal, rather than give people the truth; they destroy, rather than build up God’s people.
There are several passages in the Old Testament where God is referred to as a “shepherd”; the most popular one is Psalm 23, in which David says “The Lord is my Shepherd.” The Book of the prophet Ezekiel contains a prophecy that God will one day come and pasture His sheep: “For thus says the Lord GOD: Look! I myself will search for my sheep… In good pastures I will pasture them… I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest—oracle of the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 34:11-15) When Jesus declared Himself as the Good Shepherd in John 10, He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy; in the Person of Jesus Christ, God has come Himself to pasture His sheep.
Points to consider in the Good Shepherd discourse (John 10):
- “When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.” (John 10:4) – the man born blind recognized the voice of Jesus as the true shepherd; therefore, he followed Him. On the other hand, the Pharisees and the unbelieving Jews did not recognize the voice of Jesus; therefore, they did not follow Christ.
- “I am the gate for the sheep… Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” (John 10:7,9) Here, Jesus affirms that salvation can be attained only through Him, with Him and in Him. Later on, at the Last Supper, Jesus will reiterate this sentiment by saying to Thomas: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
- “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.” (John 10:16) The “other sheep” refers to the gentiles. Jesus Himself ministered to some gentiles; e.g., the Samaritan woman (John 4) the Roman centurion (Matthew 8:8) and the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28). However, it was only after His resurrection, that He commanded the apostles: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, where are His sheep now?
The Church is a sheepfold, the sole and necessary gateway to which is Christ. It is also the flock of which God Himself foretold that He would be the shepherd, and whose sheep, even though governed by human shepherds, are unfailingly nourished and led by Christ Himself, the Good Shepherd, who gave His life for His sheep. (CCC 754)
On a personal level, how can one tell if he belongs to the flock of Christ? Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me… they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:14,16) There are so many voices in the world today; sometimes we get confused as to who we should listen to. To belong to the flock of Christ means that, like the man born blind, one must recognize the voice of Jesus as the true shepherd, and follow Him. It also means that one must belong to the one flock of which Christ is the Shepherd – the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, on the eve of the feast day of Our Lady, Help of Christians, Chinese Catholics from all over the United States will get together via ZOOM to pray for the Church in China. Please reserve this date in your calendars. Our participation shows our commitment that we are One Church and One Body in Christ. The prayer vigil starts at 8:00pm.
The small group reflection for April 30 is now available. You can pick up a copy in the church foyer or find it in our church website hnojatl.org or in the Tabella app.
We are excited to hold a Summer Camp on the weekend of June 9-11, 2023. The venue is Heart Ridge, a Catholic Retreat and Cultural Center located in Sunset, South Carolina. It is a beautiful natural reserve with mountains, lakes, waterfalls and forest. It is about a 2.5-hour drive from Holy Name of Jesus Chinese Catholic Mission. The minimum fee is $140/person for 3 days and 2 nights, including meals. For families who opt to stay in the 3 available private cottages, there will be a surcharge depending on the cottage. Please register with Daisy Tsui.
Attention all Chinese Cursillo members: We will have our monthly ULTREYA today. In order for us to begin the meeting and end on time, please proceed to the conference room immediately after Mass.
Prayer List: Liang Chenjing, Pan Bohao, Angela Griffin, Wang Dacheng, Long Guorui, Zhang Qiang, Li Kuiying and Xu Taicheng.