Jesus, in today's Gospel, says that he is the good shepherd the prophets had promised to Israel.
He is the shepherd-prince, the new David--who frees people from bondage to sin and gathers them into one flock, the Church, under a new covenant, made in his blood (see Ezekiel 34:10--13, 23--31). His flock includes other sheep, he says, far more than the dispersed children of Israel (see Isaiah 56:8; John 11:52). And he gave his Church the mission of shepherding all peoples to the Father.
In today's First Reading, we see the beginnings of that mission in the testimony of Peter, whom the Lord appointed shepherd of his Church (see John 21:15--17). Peter tells Israel's leaders that the Psalm we sing today is a prophecy of their rejection and crucifixion of Christ. He tells the "builders" of Israel's temple, that God has made the stone they rejected the cornerstone of a new spiritual temple, the Church (see Mark 12:10--13; 1 Peter 2:4--7). Through the ministry of the Church, the shepherd still speaks (see Luke 10:16 ),and forgives sins (see John 20:23), and makes his body and blood present, that all may know him in the breaking of the bread (see Luke 24:35). It is a mission that will continue until all the world is one flock under the one shepherd.
In laying down his life and taking it up again, Jesus made it possible for us to know God as he did--as sons and daughters of the Father who loves us. As we hear in today's Epistle, he calls us his children, as he called Israel his son when he led them out of Egypt and made his covenant with them (see Exodus 4:22--23; Revelation 21:7).
Today, let us listen for his voice as he speaks to us in the Scriptures, and vow again to be more faithful followers. And let us give thanks for the blessings He bestows from his altar.
Ps 118:1, 8--9, 21--23, 26, 29
1 Jn 3:1--2
Scott Hahn is the founder and president of the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology. He is also the bestselling author of numerous books including The Lamb's Supper, Reasons to Believe, and Rome Sweet Home (co-authored with his wife, Kimberly). Some of his newest books are The Creed, Joy to the World and Evangelizing Catholics.