One of the images Jesus uses to reveal himself is that of the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11). This shepherd not only takes care of the physical needs of his sheep but in fact “lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11). Jesus is the shepherd who exceeds all the demands that one could naturally place upon a shepherd. His mission is much deeper than mere commitment to a task and much greater than simply fulfilling one’s obligations. He is motivated by pure love for his sheep and his desire to spend eternity with them. Dying for them is his way of expressing the profound love of the Father. There is never a moment’s hesitation, only the willingness to fulfill all that the Father desires, “not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42).
How does this love of the Good Shepherd make us feel? Does self-hate and false humility prevent us from receiving the tremendous love the Good Shepherd offers us? Why is it that so many times we can speak of God’s great love to other people but then when it comes to us we have such a difficult time believing it? All the reasons we create and the excuses we make for why God should not love us are exactly that, excuses. They are not the truth. God looks at our list of excuses, simply smiles at them, and then throws them away. They are not good enough for him.
He is the Good Shepherd, who even if one of his sheep goes astray, will leave the ninety nine other sheep to rescue the one that is lost (Mt 18:10-14). Let us stop running, let us stop making excuses as to why we are not good enough. Let us humbly receive His love and allow Him to place us on His shoulders and carry us away to the secret recesses of His heart where His love can replace all of our insecurities.
God bless you,
Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Felix Friary, Yonkers, New York