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Pay Praing

Bible Speaks

By Pastor Julian Harris



I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has                                   no concern for the sheep. (John 10:11-13)


Jesus and as the extension of His Divine Presence in this world, The Church, came to sacrifice Himself for His own, to love them, not to master them.        The Church is not here to hound the sheep into exhaustion or to get them in line to enter The Gate, but to love them, guide them and lead them by the surest, safest path to Jesus. Who is the gate, the door, the way, the Good Shepherd?:


I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. (John 10:9)


His Holiness Pope Francis says that priests, bishops and those given leadership in the Church are to be shepherds, not managers.


A shepherd after the heart of God has a heart sufficiently free to set aside his own concerns. He does not live by calculating his gains or how long he has worked: He is not an accountant of the Spirit, but a Good Samaritan who seeks out those in need.  For the flock he is a shepherd, not an inspector, and he devotes himself to the mission not fifty or sixty percent, but with all he has.  In seeking, he finds, and he finds because he takes risks. He does not stop when disappointed and he does not yield to weariness. Indeed, he is stubborn in doing good, anointed with the divine obstinacy that loses sight of no one.  Not only does he keep his doors open, but he also goes to seek out those who no longer wish to enter them. (Homily 3 June 2016)




He remembers how the Father’s love touched his life, and in that encounter of closeness and love, gave birth to the vocation of the shepherd.  Likewise, in him the sheep find welcome and understanding with all of their sins and limitations.  The priest-shepherd is a man after God’s own heart. His heart seeks the lost without fear of failing.             He leaves the comfort of his pasture and routine;   he doesn’t demand overtime. He goes off in search, his heart is anxious until he finds that one lost sheep, and having found it, he forgets his own weariness and puts the sheep on his shoulders, fully content.


For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10)


Speak Mary, declaring, what you saw, wayfaring.

(Easter Hymn Hail the Spotless Easter Victim)


Jesus has gone before us and is waiting for us there along the Everlasting Way.  Wayfaring, we expect to meet shepherds and sheep and experience intimacy and love. We will encounter hirelings. They work for pay and manage with anonymity and law. There will be wolves in sheep’s clothing, and there will be true shepherds who are part of the flock. And you will know the real thing—Jesus and His good shepherds—when you meet them.


The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.  Hirelings eat the fat of the sheep and clothe themselves in their wool.




When Our Divine Lord said that there are many sheep beyond our local sheepfold, He did not say that there are many shepherds.


And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:  them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (John 10:16)


Not uniformity, but unity, that unity which Our Lord shares with His Heavenly Father and into which Our Lord invites us through the Sacrifice of the Cross and the Mass:


I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message.  May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You.  May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. (John 17:20-21)


Our Savior Jesus Christ does not declare that all mankind are His sheep.  We are the sheep of a vast flock living out our lives under the care of His shepherd of the local fold, the parish, if we hear the Good News and know God and He knows us.  Those who hear and do not believe are not His sheep:


“I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered the Pharisees.  “The works that I do in My Father’s name testify about Me.  But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know the, and they follow Me. (John 10:25-27)


Between Christ and His Church there is a Communion of love, a union of life, and a reciprocity of recognition which transcends the closest intimacies of earthy life, and finds its only analogue in that deep and mysterious oneness which subsists between the Father, Who alone knows The Son, and The Only-Begotten Son, Who alone knows The Father and reveals Him to the sheep.  Please take a moment to think about these words:


The Eucharist makes us; we do not make The Eucharist.


Jesus did not say that there are many doors, many ways, many shepherds, nor that it made little difference through which other door or path or guide one might seek the higher life.  He did not say that He was a door, but The Door.  He claims for Himself the sole right of admission or rejection with respect to the true fold of God.


Jesus did not say His teaching or His example or His commission or His works were the door, but that He personally was the unique entrance to the fullness of the life of God.  He stands alone and shares no honors with His colleagues, not Moses and Elijah, not Luther, not Calvin, not Zwingli and much lest Zoroaster (The Three Wise Magicians), Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, Mary Baker Eddy, or anyone else:


Nobody can come to the Father,

Except through Me. (John 14:6)


The Lord reveals at what personal cost He leads His flock to green pastures (Psalm 23).  He is not The Good Shepherd because He provides economic plenty, social mobility, gender equality, and pay equity, but because He lays down His life:  He dies for His sheep.


The Shepherd’s crook has the form of the cross.


Venerable Fulton J. Sheen writes:


The Cross appears under the symbol of the shepherd.  The shepherd-patriarch Jacob and the shepherd-king David now pass into the Shepherd-Savior, as the staff becomes a crook, the crook a scepter, and the scepter a Cross.

(Life of Christ, The Good Shepherd, 1958)





The priest knows how human he is, and yet, like Christ on the Cross, suspended between heaven and earth, abandoned by one and rejected by the other, the world expects him to be more than human. Called to be as pure and as holy as an angel, he is conscious of his own weakness, bearing about as he does the rich treasure in a frail vessel. And yet he must fulfill the words of his Master: “Thou hast sent me into the world on thy errand, and I have sent them into the world on my errand” (John 17:18). From now on, he no longer takes the short breaths of the world; he must draw in strength from the world of the spirit.

(These Are The Sacraments, The Sacrament of Holy Orders, 1962)

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