Reflection for Vocation Sunday
I Am The Good Shepherd
Farmers with large flocks and people with a few sheep both care for their sheep with passion and skill. What we don’t really know is whether it makes a difference being a sheep in a small flock, known by name, and with an individual relationship with the carer, compared to being a sheep in a large flock whose primary relationship is with other sheep (and possibly the sheep dog).
The metaphor Jesus uses relates to the small flocks of his time, each flock looked after by a shepherd who knew the sheep individually. The personal relationship with the shepherd carer is at the heart of his message, and it reaches deep into our human psyche. Each of us needs to be known by others, because that is the foundation for the relationships which sustain us and enable us to “have life to the full”.
Being known is not just about our name being known. We are truly known when people are aware of our life history, our family connections, our community networks, our accomplishments and even our failures. That is the kind of relationship Jesus is offering us, with an even deeper dimension. Our true self is completely known to him, in a way we may not even know ourselves. This is the “knowing” he means when he talks about the sheep being called “one by one” by one by the shepherd.
We don’t reveal ourselves to everyone, and only a few people may know us really well. It is very different in our relationship with Jesus. In that relationship no part of us is unknown to him. We do not fully know ourselves, and one of the very fulfilling aspects of our relationship with Jesus is his revelation to us of ourselves.
The relationship we have with Jesus the Shepherd has the potential to be the most honest and transparent relationship of our lives, the gate to “having life and having life to the full”.