Tend His Sheep
As we have experienced this Risen Christ, we rejoice and live with that joy day in and day out. The same Risen Christ asks us if we love Him, and as a response to that love, He invites us to feed and tend His sheep.
Growing up as a child in a small town in Mexico, besides going to school, one of my tasks was to look after my father’s sheep. I named and cared for them, but sometimes I was frustrated because some of the sheep were rebellious and liked to go astray. The flock of sheep was mixed. I was a shepherd of sheep that were not mine but belonged to my father, but I loved and cared for them as mine.
The Risen Jesus asks us if we love Him and invites us to be shepherds of His flock by having the qualities of the loving Good Shepherd. A good shepherd cares for the sheep, knows them, and gives his life for them, like Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.
The love of Jesus is inseparable from the care of His flock. It is a love that commissions us to be shepherds that feed, guide, listen, teach, heal, connect with, and shepherd the Lord’s sheep. It is that love for Jesus Christ that calls us to be witnesses to God’s flock. But above all, a good shepherd is not selective of which sheep he chooses to tend. When Jesus told Peter to “feed my sheep,” He was referring to all His sheep.
In a vocation to the priesthood, a young man responds to the Lord’s question if he loves Him and is asked to be a shepherd over the sheep entrusted to him. The young man must use the person of Jesus Christ as his model of a shepherd in his particular vocation to the ministerial priesthood.
A young man called to this vocation discerns that sheep in our community and society need to be pastored because they feel like they have lost all hope and their Christian and human dignity is taken away. There is much need for healing and hope that comes from the Good Shepherd, and even though priests are also sheep of the Good Shepherd, God calls them to heal and tend all His sheep.
The Lord invites a young man in the ministerial priesthood to take care of all His sheep, which are not his, but the Lord’s. As St. Augustine wrote, “Feed [all] my sheep as mine, not as yours; look for my glory in them, not yours; my good, not yours; my benefit, not yours.” It is not a flock of his own, but the Lord trusts them to the priest who answers His call and asks him to make it his in the model of Jesus the Good Shepherd.
It is an answer that flows from the young man’s love for the Lord and the individually professed love for Christ that calls the young man to be shepherd and tend God’s sheep. It is time for the Christian community to embody the qualities of the Good Shepherd, the Risen Lord, and foster vocations particularly to the ministerial priesthood, a vocation to be shepherds in Christ.
Christ is Risen! He is Truly Risen! Alleluia!