The Vatican

Good Shepherd Sunday: "Jesus defends, knows and loves every sheep".

During the prayer of the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis reflected on the figure of the Good Shepherd, stressing that "for each and every one Jesus gave his life".

David Fernández Alonso-April 26, 2021-Reading time: 2 minutes
the pope prays the Regina Coeli

Photo: ©2021 Catholic News Service / U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

On Good Shepherd Sunday, Pope Francis, after celebrating the priestly ordination of nine priests, prayed the Regina Coeli from the window of the Apostolic Palace.

"On this Fourth Sunday of Easter, called the Sunday of the Good Shepherd," Francis began, "the Gospel (Jn 10:11-18) presents Jesus as the true shepherd, who defends, knows and loves his sheep. He is opposed to the 'hireling', who does not care about the sheep, because they are not his own. He does this work only for the pay, and does not care about defending them: when the wolf comes, he flees and abandons them (cf. vv. 12-13). Jesus, however, true shepherd, defends us and saves us in many difficult and dangerous situations, through the light of his word and the power of his presence, which we experience especially in the Sacraments.

"The second aspect," the Holy Father continued, "is that Jesus, the good shepherd, knows his sheep and the sheep know him (v. 14). How beautiful and consoling it is to know that Jesus knows each one of us, that we are not anonymous to him, that our name is known to him! For Him we are not a "mass", a "multitude", no. We are unique persons, each one with his or her own unique personality. We are unique persons, each one with his own history, each one with his own value, both as a creature and as one redeemed by Christ. Each one of us can say: Jesus knows me! It is true, it is so: He knows us as no one else does. He alone knows what is in our hearts, our intentions, our most hidden feelings. Jesus knows our strengths and our weaknesses, and He is always ready to take care of us, to heal the wounds of our mistakes with the abundance of His grace. In him is fully realized the image of the shepherd of God's people outlined by the prophets: he cares for his sheep, gathers them together, binds up the wounded, heals the sick... (cf. Ez 34:11-16)" (cf. Ez 34:11-16).

The figure of the Good Shepherd is familiar to Francis: "Jesus the Good Shepherd defends, knows and above all loves his sheep. For this reason he lays down his life for them (cf. Jn 10:15). Love for his sheep, that is, for each one of us, leads him to die on the cross, because this is the will of the Father, that no one be lost. Christ's love is not selective, it embraces everyone. He himself reminds us of this in today's Gospel, when he says: "I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must lead them also, and they will listen to my voice; and there will be one flock, one shepherd" (Jn 10:16). These words attest to his universal concern: Jesus wants everyone to be able to receive the love of the Father and to have life.

"The Church is called to carry out this universal mission of Christ. In addition to those who frequent our communities, there are many people who do so only in particular cases or never. But this does not mean that they are not children of God, whom the Father entrusts to Christ the Good Shepherd. For each and every one Jesus gave his life. And to each and every one we Christians have to witness his love, with a humble and fraternal attitude".

The Pope concluded by affirming that "Jesus defends, knows and loves each of his sheep. May the Blessed Virgin Mary help us to welcome and follow the Good Shepherd first, so as to cooperate with joy in his mission".

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