Yesterday I drew your attention to the way John, in Chapter Ten of his Gospel, wove two parables into one. In the parable yesterday’s Gospel highlighted Jesus compared himself to the gate of a sheepfold. A sheepfold was a corral where ten or more families would pen up their little flocks together at night. Each night the shepherd boy from one of the families would keep guard in the gateway, allowing only other true shepherds to come in for sheep. That guard himself was known as the gate. In calling himself the gate Jesus was saying that any parent or teacher who took charge of children would need to tend his sheep knowing that really they belong to the Lord.
Today we have the better known of the two parables. It is the Parable of the Good Shepherd.
A wonderful thing about a shepherd boy back then was that his sheep recognized his voice, and no other. They would follow their own shepherd’s voice, while they couldn’t even hear a stranger’s voice. In the morning when a boy came to the gate he would make a sound that only his sheep could recognize. They’d get up and follow him, while the others slept on.
Our Father Dan Logan kept sheep at home in Ireland, and he always followed them with a stick, urging them on. So, when he got to take a trip to the Holy Land he wanted to get out into the hills to see if sheep there actually followed the voice of their. To his surprise they did.
Since Jesus calls himself the real shepherd we, as priests or parents or teachers, can only be true leaders if the voice of Jesus can be heard in our words.