“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
What makes Jesus the Good Shepherd? Jesus gives us two answers today:
One, sacrifice for the sheep – Jesus says: “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” but the hireling leaves the sheep and flees when danger approaches, the hireling cares only about himself, not the sheep. Two, knowledge of the sheep – Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me.”
In truth, the call to leadership must never be considered as a call to personal glory or an opportunity to enrich oneself. It is always a call to service, a call to selflessness, a call to sacrifice and getting to know those that one leads. Leading others (fellow human beings) is indeed the most difficult assignment on earth. Without cultivating the habit of personal prayer, no one can ever succeed at it. This is the lesson we learn in today’s first reading. In his prayer, Peter was given a vision wherein he was told not to call anything unclean which God has made clean. He would later understand the meaning of this vision when some men came from Caesarea to fetch him. In the end, a Roman official of high standing, Cornelius along with his entire family was baptised and received the Holy Spirit. This paved way for the spread of the faith to Rome.
From the vision of Peter, we learn to avoid judging people simply based on where they come from. Whereas the bad shepherd, the thief thrives by creating division and sowing seeds of hatred and ethnic rivalry among the sheep, the good shepherd unites all, mends conflicts and teaches love above anything else. St. Paul would later add in Galatians 3:27-29 “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.”