The Good Shepherd

John 10:9-16
Photius the Great, Patriarch of Constantinople

Today we hear Jesus Christ’s teaching in which He compares Himself to both a door and a shepherd. He is a door because it is through Him that we are able to come home to the Father. He provides us with a place of rest and safety, a place where He Himself will feed us on His Body and Blood.

And Jesus also compares Himself to a shepherd – to a good shepherd. Here he uses an image that would probably have been more familiar to his hearers than it is to many of us. They knew that a good shepherd is absolutely committed to his sheep and, unlike a hired servant, will not abandon them when they are threatened. By using this image, Jesus shows us His absolute commitment to His people.

This image also points to the close relationship that exists between the Shepherd and His sheep – between Jesus Christ and ourselves. He has given His life for us, and wants to draw us ever-closer to Himself so that He will truly be our protection and our life. This relationship already exists objectively – He has poured out His life for us and united us to Himself through our baptism. But if we are to be truly nourished by Him, we also need make place for Him in our lives – we need to activate this relationship by choosing to be close to Him. With Saint Gregory of Nyssa we can pray:

Show me then the place of pasture, make known to me the waters of rest, lead me out to the good grass, call me by name that I, your sheep, may listen to your voice and may your call be the gift of eternal life.

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The Holy Gospel according to Saint John 10:9-16:
The Lord said, “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.”