In St. John’s Gospel (Jn 10:11-18, 27-29), Jesus Christ presents himself to us as the Good Shepherd: “I am the Good Shepherd,” that is, the Shepherd who knows his sheep, calls them by name, loves them unconditionally and gives his life for them.

We are the Lord’s sheep! What does it mean to be the Lord’s sheep? To be good sheep (or shepherds after the Good Shepherd) means (1) to know Jesus, that is, to believe in him and to love him: not just knowing about him but knowing him, and loving him with the whole heart, which is the best way of knowing him.

To be part of Jesus’ flock entails also (2) to listen to his voice. Jesus told us: “My sheep listen to my voice” (John 10:27). Good listening is attentive and devout listening that leads us to practice the Lord’s teaching: “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock” (Mt 7:24).

We listen and practice, therefore, the words the Good Shepherd tells us:

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe”; “Love one another as I have loved you”; “Forgive one another”; “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”; “I was hungry and you gave me food.”

To know Jesus, to listen to him and to love him, really, means (3) to follow him. At the beginning of Christianity, the disciples of Jesus were called the followers of the Way. The good Lord calls us to follow him by different paths: all leading to Jesus, the Way. To each one of us, the Lord said or says, “I chose you”: or “I choose you”: Follow me.” Our faith in the good Lord asks us to follow Jesus by the path of our personal vocation. For us all – priests, religious and lay faithful -, Jesus, our Light, is the Way to the Truth and to Life. He is the only Way to Love and happiness here and hereafter. We never forget that if we love as children of God and brothers and sisters of one another it is because God first loved us (1 Jn 4:19).

Is it hard to follow Jesus today? Yes, really: it is never easy! And today, then, it is also difficult. The world in which we live – with its frontal opposition to Christian faith and life – seems to make more difficult the following of Jesus. Our world appears as extremely selfish, materialistic and generally godless and opposed to God. It is certainly hard to follow Jesus truly. But, yes, we can and we have to! We have the needed help to be good and joyful Christians in our world, which we try to convert and lead to Jesus.

Indeed, by ourselves, we can do nothing, for we are weak – all sinners. But with God’s grace and love in us – as the Psalmist tells us – “we can scale any wall.” Thus, to be good sheep entails, too, (4) to pray to the Good Shepherd, who keeps telling us: “I will do whatever you ask [the Father] in my name” (Jn 14:13).

With Jesus our Good Shepherd guiding and empowering us, we can do – always with divine grace – many good things. And if we get lost, Jesus will look for us, find us and – repentant – heal us. How amazing!  “When Jesus found the lost sheep, he did not chastise it; he did not use rough blows to drive it back; but gently placed it on his own shoulders and carried it back to the flock” (St. Asterius).

Is Jesus our Good Shepherd?  Yes! Sublime Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd…”  I love the following story. There was a famous British actor who used to give a grand party on his birthday. After dinner he liked to recite some emblematic texts and poems by English authors and other great writers. His guests were also invited to ask him to recite a poem or other literary texts. Once, an old priest asked him to “please, recite the Good Shepherd Psalm.” The actor obliged, but with one condition: the priest must also recite the Psalm after him.

Regretting his request, the humble priest also obliged. After the actor recited it with his booming and vibrating voice, and exquisite pronunciation, the audience gave him a standing ovation. The turn of the priest came. He began to recite it slowly, devoutly, with total faith in what he was saying: The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. In verdant pastures, he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul… Even if I walk the darkest valley, I fear no evil for you are with me…; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”

When the priest had finished, one could only hear the sound of silence. One could also hear some sobs here and there, and see tears falling from the eyes of many. To break the silence, the kind actor went to the podium to comment: “I hope you have seen the difference: I know the Psalm; the priest knows the Shepherd.

Jesus called us to be his flock. He sent us, moreover, to witness his life and teachings in our world, because “there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and I must lead these too. They too will listen to my voice, and there will be only one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:16).

We are the voice of the Good Shepherd today: the voice that tells the world of Jesus’ universal love.


“As he [Jesus] went ashore, he saw a great crowd” and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mk 6:34). Barclay comments beautifully on this text.

What does it mean to have or not to have a shepherd?

(1) Without a shepherd, the sheep cannot find a way; they are lost… Jesus is our Shepherd: “It is only when Jesus leads and we follow that we can find the way.” (2) “A sheep without shepherd cannot find its pasture and its food.” … “We can gain strength for life only from him who is the living bread.” (3) “A sheep without a shepherd has no defense against the dangers which threaten it.” … “Only in the company of Jesus can we walk in the world and keep our garments unspotted from it. Without him we are defenseless; with him we are safe.” (W. Barclay, The Gospel of Mark, In 6:30-34).