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The Good Shepherd Leads Us Out Together

The religion revealed by Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, is not an individual, private religion. It is not limited to a personal relationship to Jesus.

Fr. Hugh Barbour – Catholic Answers Article –

How could sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd? One way would be if the shepherd spent time with them individually, one by one, so that the sheep would individually grow accustomed to the shepherd’s voice. This process can happen if the sheep is treated like a pet, as we see in so many representations of the Lord as the Good Shepherd. He even has the little lamb around his neck.

Now, if a shepherd had a very small flock, this method would work well enough. But sheep are herd animals; they are social beasts, so they stick to each other in a group, following where others lead. There are usually just too many for them to know the shepherd’s voice by daily individual meetings. Instead the sheep imitate each other in responding to the shepherd feeding them. They respond to his voice together.

The sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

John 10:3-6

The religion revealed by Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, is not an individual, private religion. It is not limited to a personal relationship to Jesus. It is a religion of a society, which is the human equivalent to a flock. It is the religion of the Church—a word that comes from the Greek ecclesia, literally “a calling together.” It is the congregation of followers of the One whose voice has called them to himself.

“Outside the Church there is no salvation.” The whole text of this Gospel lesson teaches this. (You can find a good explanation of this teaching in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.) This expression is not one of threat or of exclusivity, but of anxious care. We must stay close to the Church, to its sacraments and worship, to its teaching found in Holy Writ and in the holy Fathers of the Church who have meditated on these scriptures for millennia. We must seek daily and perseveringly the Lord’s face and the company of his mother and his holy ones in prayer, and—and this is crucially essential—to recognize our fellow members of the Body, our fellow sheep, in our neighbors. They are actually or potentially found in everyone with whom we come into contact, whether virtual or real, whether at six feet of social distance or farther or closer.

Read the full article here on Catholic.com