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A Shepherd Like No Other | Christoph Cardinal Schönborn |
A reflection on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, from
Behold, God's Son!
The Gospel of John 10:11-18
[Jesus said,] "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays
down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own
the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the
wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares
nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know
me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for
the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them
also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may
take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I
have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I
have received from my Father."
A Shepherd like No Other
In old photos of my homeland in Bohemia I see our shepherd, with his
broad-brimmed hat and his loden coat, leaning against a tree, knitting a woolen
sock. Beside him is his sheepdog, and all around the flock of sheep--it is a
picture from a bygone age, a world not much different, essentially, from in
Jesus' time. Only the wolves Jesus talks about, which used to prey on the
flocks, are no longer to be found in our land. They were active for the last
time in the cold winters of the twenties.
I know all that only from what old people tell me and from yellowing photos. Has
the image of the good shepherd therefore become incomprehensible for us in
today's world? I do not think so. I believe that what Jesus says about the good
shepherd still stirs people's spirits just as much, even though the shepherd
with his flock has become a rare sight. Perhaps this is because the good
shepherd who cares for the sheep is a kind of archetypal image in our minds. It
is probably also on account of the power of Jesus' own words. It is not the shepherd
who makes clear what Jesus is saying, but vice versa: only through Jesus do we
feel the full force and depth of the image of the good shepherd. For there is
no shepherd like him.
"The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." What moves us
about this image is the feeling of security we have. His sheep are just as
important to this shepherd as his own life--even more important. At the critical
moment he does not run away, does not abandon his charges in order to keep
himself safe and save his own skin. Anyone with a shepherd like that knows he
is safe. How badly we all need people like that, people who do not think only
about themselves and their own comfort. How very much do children need such
parents, workers such bosses, and believers such priests and bishops. How very much
we need people who undertake their tasks, not merely as a job, but as pastoral
care. The good shepherd does not abandon his flock when "things get
hot", when the wolf becomes a threat to the flock. Part of a pastor's task
is being prepared to stand up in person to evil, to what may hurt people--not to
let things run their course so as to avoid taking unpleasant steps.
Parents are good shepherds whenever they do not simply let everything pass,
when they protect their children from negative influences. And Christ, the
"chief shepherd", expects the shepherds of the Church, the pastors,
to have the courage not just to say "yes" and "Amen" to
everything, merely to avoid rubbing people the wrong way. Jesus set an example
of how the shepherd has to protect those who belong to him, even at the cost of
"I know my own and my own know me." The shepherd knows his flock, and
his flock knows him. We usually know pretty quickly whether a
"shepherd" is concerned for us or for himself. Children are hurt, not
by their parents being strict, but by the feeling that they do not matter to
their parents. We are deeply moved when we meet people who are good shepherds.
And God be thanked, they are there: in the family, in professional life, in
politics, and in the Church. They impart what we need so much, a feeling of
care and security. We should be grateful to them. Yet no one is more of a
shepherd, in that sense, than Jesus himself. No one loves us as he does. Only
he is wholly and completely "the good shepherd".
Behold, God's Son! Encountering Christ in the Gospel of Mark
by Christoph Cardinal Schönborn
Who is Jesus Christ? How can we really know Him? People
have been asking that major question for 2,000 years. The best answers are
found in the four Gospels, but how are they to be understood, and applied to
our modern lives and faith?
Cardinal Schönborn, former student of Pope Benedict XVI
and well-known as a brilliant theologian, presents his second volume of
reflections on the person of Christ, this time as found in the Gospel of Mark.
Sunday after Sunday, Cardinal Schönborn uses the Gospel readings from Mark to
explain the beauty of the Gospel in clear and understandable words.
The Cardinal emphasizes that each of the four Gospels is
unique and has its own unmistakable shape and approach. He says that no other
Gospel writer talks in such a human way about Jesus as Mark. Anger and sorrow,
Jesus' passionate emotional responses, are more explicitly mentioned in Mark
than in the other Gospels. But however human Jesus may appear here, it is also
Mark in particular who also strongly emphasizes his divinity. Believing in
Jesus, having faith in him, is what Mark is all about.
"A mix of deep, rewarding reflection on the Gospel of
Mark, and an intimate manner of writing that opens the Word of God to even the
most casual reader. For anyone serious about deepening his or her encounter
with the Word of God, this little book is essential" -- Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Denver.
Related IgnatiusInsight.com Articles and Excerpts:
Encountering Christ in the Gospel |
Excerpt from My Jesus | Christoph Cardinal Schönborn
The Church Is the Goal of All Things |
Excerpt from Loving The Church | Christoph Cardinal Schönborn
Reincarnation: The Answer of Faith |
Excerpt from From Death to Life: The Christian Journey | Christoph Cardinal Schönborn
The Truth of the Resurrection |
Excerpts from Introduction to Christianity | Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Seeing Jesus in the Gospel of John |
Excerpts from On The Way to Jesus Christ | Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
A Jesus Worth Dying For |
A Review of On The Way to Jesus Christ | Justin Nickelsen
The Divinity of Christ | Peter Kreeft
Jesus Is Catholic | Hans Urs von Balthasar
The Religion of Jesus | Blessed Columba Marmion
| From Christ, The Ideal of the Priest
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn is the Archbishop of Vienna, Austria.
He was the general editor of the Catechism
of the Catholic Church, co-author (with Cardinal Ratzinger) of Introduction
to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the author of God's
Human Face and Living the Catechism of the Catholic Church: The
Creed (Vol. 1), The
Sacraments (Vol. 2), Life
in Christ (Vol. 3), and Paths
of Prayer (Vol. 4).
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