Praised be Jesus and Mary!
Last Sunday, the Gospel reading (John 10:1-5,9-10) talks Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
In the Filipino culture, many of us cannot easily relate to the idea of sheep and shepherds. In my whole life living here in the Philippines, I have not seen a sheep, not even in zoo.Thus my idea of sheep and shepherds all came from friends’ stories and priests’ homilies.
According to the priest last Sunday (I am sorry I do not know his name), sheep are very picky when it comes to food. That is why a shepherd must know where to lead the sheep so that it can eat fresh grass. Also, a flock of sheep can easily become prey even to a single wild dog. That is why the shepherd must watch over the sheep even at night. If a wild dog tries to harm the sheep, the shepherd will use his staff (cane? stick? staff? ah! whatever that is called.) to beat the dog and to protect his flock.
A good and wise friend, Christine, also shared that there is a reason why the end of the staff is curved. She explained that when a sheep decides to wander away from the flock, it would be the shepherd’s duty to bring him back. The shepherd will use the curved end to hook the sheep’s neck and lead it back to the others. Interesting, isn’t it? ^^
Going back to the Filipino setting, farmers would normally guide a carabao or a cow. Early in the morning, they would lead the carabao or the cow to the field, tie the poor animal to a tree or stick, and leave it under a tree (or even under the sun) to eat grass and drink water from a pail. Obviously, this is not a very good illustration of a good shepherd. The priest last Sunday explained in his homily that it would be better to look at hens.
In my neighborhood, almost every household raise hens. When the mother hen is trying to hatch the eggs, it would not leave the eggs behind. Well, then hen would of course leave for a very short while to eat but it will rush back to the eggs as soon as possible. The hen would sit on the eggs all day and all night until hatching time. When the chicks are out, the mother hen would find food. The food already on its beak would be given to the chicks. The hen would not mind being hungry for the chicks. And, if you try to approach the chicks, the hen would get attack you to protect the chicks.
Did you notice? The hens are like mothers. She would carry the baby for nine months, risk her life during childbirth, and sacrifice for the child even after birth. She would not mind sleepless nights watching over her beloved baby. And, even the child becomes an adult, a mother’s love would never change. (Thank you, Mommy. I love you very much.)
And that is the image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. He leads and guides us. He even scolds us when we make mistakes. He teaches us how to live and how to love. He sacrificed His life for us. He cares for us. He watches over us. All these because He loves you and me.
Happy Mothers’ Day to all moms!!
Kristine G. Veneracion