Old McDonald had a farm…
And on this farm he had some sheep…
Sheep are supposed to be pretty stupid animals – but are they really? Sure, they need a shepherd to lead them – and a dog barking at them – so they know which direction to go. But maybe this simplistic way of life is a very bright way for all of us to exist. Imagine what the sheep would be like without the shepherd and the shepherd’s dog. Sheep are smart enough to know they need a Shepherd. Are we smart enough to know we need a Messiah?
In our society, we really like to think highly of ourselves. To think of us as sheep seems, at least initially, like an insult. We want to be intelligent, brave, hard working, and independent thinkers. Almost the opposite of what we know about sheep. But there is another way of looking at this image that Jesus shares in this week’s Gospel.
And on that Farm… he heard voices?
Like sheep, we need to hear the voice of our shepherd. Sheep can always tell the difference between the voice of their shepherd and the voice of another. Can we tell the difference between the voice of Jesus and those other voices in the world? There are many voices in the world – so which voice is the right one? Like the sheep, are we able to tell the voice of our Shepherd or do all the voices sound the same?
Think of the image Jesus paints for us today. In this day and age, it is important to remember that Jesus alone is the Shepherd. As much as we may sometimes come to think of Church leaders as shepherds, Jesus is very clear: He tells us he is the only one. Most effective religious leaders believe and operate with this perspective in mind. Although they do have a role in helping to lead the sheep, none of them is the shepherd.
And on that Farm he had a dog. . .
As someone involved in Church leadership, I am comfortable in seeing leadership in a different way. No one is the Shepherd, but rather being a leader is like being the shepherd’s dog. Church leaders bark at us sheep to remind us of the way we are to move, and calling upon us to follow the way of the Shepherd.
Obviously, this isn’t meant to change the role of leadership in the Church, but rather put it into perspective. Though more is expected of the dog than the sheep, the dog is still just a dog (no insult intended). While this doesn’t relieve the Church leaders of responsibility or accountability, it does emphasize one all-important fact: none of these men is the Messiah. Our Church leaders are performing a different function altogether.
Experience tells us that most of our Church leaders try very hard to lead and guide us all to that same good Shepherd. But unlike the shepherd, these Church leaders are all flawed. Thus it is important for us to remember that Church leaders will come and go, but it is the same good shepherd to whom we all must listen – and whose voice we should all strive to know.
Let us pray for our Church leaders during these trying times – may God bless all of us and help us always remember that the only way to get to the Father is through the son. Jesus is the good Shepherd and he is the only way for us to get to our ultimate destination – Heaven.
What are the implications of us acting as though we are the Shepherd’s sheep?
In what ways do you live as though Jesus is the good Shepherd?
How do you view Church leadership? Are you unreasonable in your expectations of Church leadership? Explain.
Original article by Dcn. Jim Corder, 2002 – 2020.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.