The Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd” (RSV, John 10:11)
We are familiar with the picture of Our Blessed Lord as the Good Shepherd, crook in hand, peacefully leading his flock on a gently sloping hillside. But the picture that Our Lord gives of himself is very different. It is that of a shepherd locked in mortal combat with a ravenous wolf, while his sheep huddle helplessly together behind him.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (RSV, John 10:11).
And there is the whole meaning of Good Friday, of that fearful conflict between Our Lord and the powers of evil for our salvation.
The sheep, helpless in the face of the wolf’s attack, have their parallel in ourselves, incapable through the weakness of our human nature of resisting and overcoming the evil that is at work around us and within our own hearts.
And the wolf, hungry and pitiless, is a fitting symbol of the power of evil, and in particular of the Devil, the Lord of Darkness, of whose presence and activity Our Lord was so acutely aware during his ministry and not least on Maundy Thursday night and Good Friday.