By Fr. Roy Cimagala
IF we are truly to be like Christ, we also have to be a good shepherd to the others as well as a sacrificial lamb for the others. Not only that. We also need to be both a shepherd and a sheep, one that takes care of others as well as one to be taken care of. Finally, we have to form ourselves as one sheepfold of Christ.
All these farm or pastoral images in the gospel remind us of these truths of our faith about ourselves in our relation with God and with everybody else. Let’s keep these precious truths vivid in our mind if only to conform our life—our thoughts, words and deeds, our desires and intentions, etc.—to them.
Conformed to Christ, we have to be both sheep and shepherd, both to be guided and to guide, following the same process of receiving and giving that characterizes our whole earthly life.
As good shepherd, Christ lays down his life for his sheep. He is willing to be the sacrificial lamb. He contrasts himself to the hireling. The latter “sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees.”
As members of the Church founded by Christ, we form one sheepfold whose door is Christ himself. We are a flock taken care of by Christ as the good shepherd, and we also take care of one another. Yes, we are also a shepherd to each other, being so in the name of Christ.
We have to understand that we ought to develop a keen sense of the pastoral. We both have to learn and to teach, to be led and to lead, to be offered like the sacrificial lamb and to be the offerer himself.
We have to understand that this sense of the pastoral involves all of us, and not just the priests and bishops. It’s for the clergy, the laity and the religious. We all take part in the continuing mission of Christ and of the Church, which is the salvation of man, though in different ways.
As sheep and lamb, we have to try our best to learn everything about our faith and to live it to the full. Christ has given us everything already that we need to know. He has given us all the means we need to be who we ought to be—nothing less than to be “another Christ.”
To be very realistic in life, we have to be ready and eager to become a sacrificial lamb. This is not bad news. This is Good News. To be a sacrificial lamb actually has a very wonderful significance. Our Christian faith tells us that given who and what we are, we have been taught right from the beginning of humanity, that we need to offer a sacrifice as a way of expressing and affirming the truth that we come from God and we also belong to him.
God, our Father and Creator, has been the one who teaches us about this duty. He has also equipped us in our nature so that we can comply with this duty that only shows the intimate relation we have with God. In short, God, who is love, has been teaching us, who are his image and likeness, how to love.
This whole business of offering sacrifices is actually the language of love. It acts out the dynamics of love which is that of mutual self-giving between the lover and the beloved. Each party becomes both lover and beloved in the ideal state of love.