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Father Muench Says...

Called to be shepherds like Jesus

May 5, 2021

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I would like to share with you about Jesus as our Good Shepherd. Recently, we all celebrated a Sunday during the Easter Season in honor of the Good Shepherd. I am certain that you remember this. You have heard much of this already. So, what do you remember?

As you remember Jesus thought of himself as the Good Shepherd. He pointed out in the Gospels that a Good Shepherd carefully protects the sheep he watches and cares for, even to the challenge of giving up his life for his sheep. These are the many qualities of a good shepherd that lead us to think of Jesus.

The story that Jesus refers to himself about the shepherds in those days is this. Each evening every shepherd in the area would bring their flock to a common pen where they had a gate keeper who watched over them over night, protecting them from thieves or dangerous animals.

Each morning, the shepherds come to lead their sheep out to pasture. The story says the sheep recognized their own shepherd. They knew their shepherd’s voice. They would not follow a stranger. Spiritually speaking, this an exact description of Jesus: a protector and guide for his disciples, and his followers recognize and follow his voice and his lead.

Jesus teaches us that he recognized this description as himself. He promised his disciples that he will lead and guide them. As a disciple of Jesus, I often recognize the hand of God touching my life. Jesus has always been a real shepherd for me. I truly believe that as my Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus carefully guides me to good pasture and continues to lead me even today.

I must share with you one more thing. Each year it comes to me as I prepare for Good Shepherd Sunday. I remember that my life has been filled with many individuals who are truly my shepherds – my good shepherds. They guided me and supported me, especially during my early years. And I must admit, even today, a shepherd occasionally comes along to guide me and show me the way. I am still directed in unique ways, sometimes by a teacher or a speaker or a preacher, to enter into a study or an activity of some sort. Now, Jesus is always my Good Shepherd. Yet, my life has been filled by so many shepherds who have supported and guided me like a shepherd. My list is long. I would imagine that you have a long list also.

Let me share with you one example that I think of today. There were many individuals who were shepherds for me during my youth. One that I do remember well is my grandfather. I remember so well how he often supported me. He would tell me often of my possibilities, telling me what a good person I was and could be, telling me that I was capable of doing great things. I know he told me things like this so often that I truly began to believe him. I lived a good life with his support. He made me a more confident person. He was truly my Good Shepherd.

So, today, I want to use this opportunity to encourage you to be that Good Shepherd that will guide and support someone you care for, someone who truly needs you. Your example is the Lord Jesus. He is truly a Good Shepherd. He changes lives constantly. You can be like him. Jesus gave himself for all of us. We also can give of ourselves for others, for those who need a shepherd.

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