Over here at UPI's Religion and Spirituality Forum, you can find my comments on today's Mass readings. In them, I reflect on the relationship between what Jesus said about the Good Shepherd, the Pharisees' attitudes and our own calls to be shepherds as husbands, wives, singles, priests, deacons or religious.
As I reflected further on this, though, I was struck more by verse 12 of the 10th chapter of John's Gospel: "A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them."
The implication there, of course, is that Jesus is not a hireling who will run away when the wolf comes. Yes, He did lay His life down for us on the Cross at Golgotha. But He still does it today. We cannot think that when we are beset by temptations that the Lord has abandoned us. He is the Good Shepherd who remains with His flock and who knows each of us by name. We are not a faceless mass to Him, like a swarm of bugs. Because He knows each of us by name, He stays by each of us protecting us in our pilgrimage "in this valley of tears."
When the wolves of temptation come -- and they will come -- the Lord does not turn tail and run off. He sticks by us even though we may not -- and probably won't -- sense it. The fact is that this whole imagery of sheep and shepherd is just that -- imagery. When we are beset by temptations, we must call out to the Lord in faith, even when we don't sense His presence at that time. That is a tactic of the wolf-- to so overwhelm us with fear or to lull us into thinking that we are all alone and so forget that the Lord, the Good Shepherd, is nearby.
We are, obviously, smarter than sheep, but even sheep will bleet out when confronted by danger hoping that they will be heard and help will come. Our task then, is to keep in mind this fact that the Lord is present to us even in our darkest trials and we need to call out to Him and remember that He will respond.