November 22, 2019

What Exactly Did A Shepherd Do?

GoodShepherdThis week the Church celebrates Good Shepherd Sunday. In an agrarian society such as first century Palestine, the image of the shepherd was immediately recognizable by Jesus’ disciples. For those of us in twenty-first century America, the image may lose something in translation. Indeed for most of the Church’s history, the images used by Jesus to explain God’s word were easily understood by those who heard or read the Scriptures. However, since the Industrial Revolution of the mid-nineteenth century images taken from a farming way of life are becoming antiquated and quaint.

What exactly did a shepherd do? He (or she) was the guide for the flock of sheep. The shepherd took care of the sheep as if they were his (her) own. The shepherd led the sheep to good grazing land and fresh water. The shepherd served as veterinarian healing them from illness, mending broken bones and cuts, and assisted with the birthing of the new lambs. Sheep were protected from wild animals and robbers because of the shepherd’s vigilance and ability to fight. Moreover, the shepherd accounted for the sheep and sought out those who had become lost or gone astray. In many ways, the shepherd became as God to the sheep. So it is no wonder that Jesus used this imagery to describe the relationship between human beings and God. Just as the shepherd gently guides the sheep, so too does God urge us onto a better pasture or way of life. Just as the shepherd allows the sheep to graze and go where they will, so too does God invite us to use our free will and intellect. The sheep are free to stray away from the flock, just as humans are allowed to stray from God’s commands. But as the shepherd goes after the lost sheep, so does God invite us to conversion and reconciliation.

As we continue in our celebration of the Easter season, may each of us learn to heed the voice of the Good Shepherd and never fail to follow the Lord. When we find ourselves going astray, we pray that we may be attentive to the voice of the Shepherd who calls us back into relationship with God.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Written by
Msgr John Kasza

REVEREND MONSIGNOR JOHN KASZA was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1993. He holds a B.A. in History from Wayne State University, Detroit and an Master of Divinity from Sacred Heart Major Seminary. He earned his doctorate in Sacramental Theology from the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant’Anselmo in Rome in 1999. Msgr. Kasza has served as an assistant professor of sacramental theology, liturgy and homiletics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary and has also taught at the Liturgical Institute at St. Mary of the Lake University in Mundelein, Illinois. He most recently served as Secretary to both Adam Cardinal Maida and Archbishop Allen Vigneron and was Vice Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Detroit. In July of 2009, Msgr. Kasza became the Academic Dean at SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan. Monsignor is currently pastor of St. James the Greater parish in Novi, Michigan and has authored several articles. His book, Understanding Sacramental Healing: Anointing and Viaticum, is available through Amazon.

View all articles
Written by Msgr John Kasza
Click to access the login or register cheese