Feast of St Boniface
Today Anne O’Brien shares the Gospel from the liturgy for the Feast of St Boniface (675-754AD) who was a bishop remembered for major reforms in the church in Germany and for his fidelity to the Pope of the time.
In this Gospel from John (10: 11-16) Jesus tells us he is the Good Shepherd – looking after us in much the same way as the shepherds of his time, who tended their flocks day and night, gathering the sheep into the sheepfold at night for the protection from the weather, thieves and predatory animals.
Anne reflects on the difference between a hired keeper and the shepherd who owns the flock. In the face of danger, the hired hand flees, whereas, the Good Shepherd who owns the flock shields them and would, if necessary, lay down his life for them.
Jesus is the loving protector and caretaker of his flock, ready to save them from destruction. He came as the one, the only one, who was (and is) completely committed to his flock, even to his own death and resurrection.
You may be wondering, why Jesus needed to give his life for our protection?
We have all sinned and by our sin, we are lost to the eternal life God has for us. We will not enter heaven if we don’t accept Jesus, the Good Shepherd, whose blood was shed for our sins and who lives as our Good Shepherd today through his resurrection.
If the Lord is our shepherd that makes us the sheep. Sheep are prone to wander and when we do, we should know that he is there to help us. In the scriptures, we learn so much about his compassion and gentleness and how he looks out for those who get lost along the way.
In conclusion, Anne invites us to prayer with Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.