“I am the Good Shepherd.”

This simple, yet most powerful statement, reveals the uniqueness of Jesus’ shepherding.

Compelled by the realism imposed by life itself, we do not want to dwell on the fact that in countries where there are real shepherds, they raise sheep for profit.

The most benevolent aspect of such profit is usually wool and milk. But eventually, sheep would have to be sold and butchered for human consumption.

From what Jesus tells us about himself, we can list the following aspects of the Good Shepherd’s mission.

He is so devoid of self-interest that unlike a hired man, he is willing to lay down his life for his sheep. In other words, far from raising sheep for personal profit, he does it out of boundless love and willingness to sacrifice himself for their sake.

Jesus’ willingness to be sacrificed for us was proven true 2000 years ago during the Last Supper in a symbolic way and, in a bloody way, on Golgotha, the following day.

The Good Shepherd establishes an intimate, unbreakable bond with his sheep. He knows them each by name.

The Good Shepherd leads his sheep to abundant pastures and refreshing waters.

The Good Shepherd longs to expand his fold to include many, many more sheep to form a single fold under one shepherd.

Within the Catholic Church, we are blessed to see and to experience this wonderful reality in physical fashion.

A bishop’s staff is supposed to be a visible reminder that our bishops are true representations in time of the qualities of the Good Shepherd.

From the Bishop of Rome (Pope) successor of Simon Peter, down to the last bishop of an obscure mission diocese, one and all Catholic bishops can trace their ordination all the way back to the Twelve.

Now, since some Catholics tend to “shop around” for a bishop to their liking, and with whom they agree in most aspects of the Faith, let me point out that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has chosen Archbishop Allen Vigneron and his auxiliary bishops to shepherd us in the Archdiocese of Detroit. Period.

The following statement should end any hesitation.

Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” Luke 10:16

Again, limiting our consideration to what Jesus reveals to us today, we can expect the bishops and priests in our Archdiocese to show us the extent of Jesus’ love for us to elicit in us an ever-growing desire to become love ourselves.

More concretely, more clearly, our priests and bishops ought to preach to us about the love of Jesus and how our destiny of being Godlike, of being love ourselves, requires our constant effort to free ourselves of selfishness and to strive sincerely to love each other the way Jesus loved us on the cross.

Our priests and bishops should also help us recognize the voice of Jesus in the Holy Scriptures and guide us to develop a personal relationship with him that would enable us to remain faithful to him and to his Church.

Likewise, our priests and bishops are called to try their very best to feed us who are Jesus’ flock, the Bread that came down from heaven, and to lead us to the refreshing springs of grace especially in the Sacraments of Reconciliation and of the Eucharist.

This feeding of the Bread from heaven is twofold by Jesus’ own intention.

In any of our Eucharistic celebrations, the first feeding must be done with the words of Life. Thus, our shepherds must have a deep knowledge of Jesus as God’s Word, live It out daily with sincerity of heart and to proclaim It with enthusiasm and boldness.

The second feeding is done, of course, in Holy Communion, at the Table of the Sacrament. If our shepherds focus their efforts only on the sacramental aspects of feeding their flock, it will result in spiritual stagnation in those who are called to bear the fruits of the Spirit for the glory of God and the good of his Church.

Finally, to bring to fulfillment Jesus’ ardent desire, all priests and bishops should fill themselves with missionary zeal to expand the size of the fold to include everyone.

For this final aspect of good shepherding to succeed, not only priests and bishops, but the whole Community needs to believe, worship, think, act, and react as one.

Those who do not yet belong to Jesus’ fold will be attracted to, consider becoming part of and work towards that desirable goal only if the Community is joyful, unselfish, loving and acting with one accord.

So far, we have seen mostly what is expected of those appointed by the Good Shepherd to continue his mission on earth.

But what is expected of us as Jesus’ sheep? We have only to listen to Simon Peter, the first Pope. He calls for a simple and exclusive choice:

There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” Acts 4:12

After all, we are not enlightened, guided, taught, and saved by some popular theologians, or by a charismatic priest or, even less, by some politically correct trends but by the Good Shepherd alone.

Through the shepherds who continue his mission we, the sheep, can find nourishment, life, loving care and unity in Jesus alone.

As this choice is lived out daily, with conscious deliberation, we gradually get to know him and continue to bask in the comforting reality of his presence, guidance, and loving care.