Consider this: Two men are given the task to care for the treasure you possess and you are asked to choose between them. Both men appear well intentioned, kind, and trustworthy. The first man is more outgoing, smooth talking, and attractive. He shows us the ease of trusting in him. The second man is rather quiet and tells us that sometimes things can be hard when we ask him to be the caregiver for our treasure. He promises that he is invested in our care but does so in a quiet and meek way. Many choose to place their treasure with the first man, stating they felt an overwhelming draw pulling them in his direction. In contrast, few choose the second man. Whom do you choose?
In today’s Gospel reading (John 10: 11-18) two men are given charge of the sheep: a hired man, who is merely out there for his own gratification, and the Good Shepherd. The hired man, who has not invested his heart, abandons the sheep to the wolves the moment he sees them approach. He is afraid and concerned with protecting himself. The Good Shepherd does not abandon his sheep because his heart is invested and the motivation is totally focused on the Divine Father in heaven. The Good Shepherd is properly ordered in His thinking—looking totally to God. The hired man falls victim to the wolves (evil) because he is consumed by his fears.
Sometimes it is hard to choose in whom to trust with our treasure (lives of faith and love). It can be very hard to deny the first man. He is, after all, more appealing to our senses. Sadly, we often judge by the standards of this world and fail to see Jesus in our midst as the Good Shepherd. We fail to recognize the peace offered by God alone because we have drifted far from quiet prayer—the place we come to know the voice of the Good Shepherd.
When looking at the two different men in today’s story, we want to recognize the truth and peace offered to us by the Good Shepherd. He (Jesus) is invested in His sheep despite pain, hardship, and even death. Jesus does not abandon us to the wolves (evil). Jesus is the Good Shepherd who walks with us when life becomes hard, when the path is littered with thorn bushes that cut our legs and make us bleed. HE walks with us when we are presented with boulders we cannot move or go around but only drill through to the find the other side.
The journey is long and hard, but with the Good Shepherd guiding our way, keeping us on the path with gentle nudges, we find safety and peace. May all of us choose wisely and use our ever deepening quiet prayer to recognize the peace offered by Jesus the Good Shepherd. HE is invested in us, truly loves us, and guides us on the path to wholeness and life eternal with him.