We have had many gospels lately, as well as other readings and commentaries in the life of the Church, on the Good Shepherd. This is what I get out of it based on my life experience and more in depth reading. The Good Shepherd, Jesus, out of LOVE has laid down His life for us, his sheep. Who are his sheep? The answer is NOT everyone but only those that love him, Jesus the Good Shepherd. How does one prove their love??? By doing what God says to do. So if you are bucking against God and his teachings/commandments by the definition of the love of God you are not part of the flock…you are not one of he sheep. (One has to love the true God and his teachings not a god of our own making.)
Okay, so far so good. Of course we are all sinners and all have the residual effects of original sin after baptism. That is why we sin. But we are still supposed to strive to love God and follow ALL of what he has left us. As Roman Catholics this is both scripture and tradition. (No matter what non-believers say tradition NEVER contradicts scripture.) We prove that we are one of God’s flock by loving God. We love God by doing what he says. Remember the transfiguration when God says that this is my son do what he says. We are commanded to do what he says…not make it up as some do.
Okay, we love God by doing what he says. We are a part of the flock that the Good Shepherd talks about. We pay attention to scripture and tradition and realize when we sin we need to get back with God. ( We have turned away from God when we sin but turn back to him when we repent.) The flock is world wide.
That leads us to the saints and most specifically the martyrs. The martyrs perfectly imitated the Good Shepherd. Remember, the flock is universal so even if a martyr dies alone, (Maria Goretti), or in a group, (Isaac Jogues & companions, [the North American Martyrs]), They died as part of the flock so they died for us also. Ergo, if we are a part of the flock and we die for Jesus Christ we have also died for the flock. The martyrs are our friends even if we never knew them in this life, even if they have died long ago. They laid down their lives for their friends, the flock, imitating the Good Shepheard.
How does this tie in with clergy sexual abuse? Abusers were never in the flock. They are the wolves talked about in scripture. Their abuse has more times than not scattered the sheep. Abusers are stealing from the flock. And yet the Church has done very little. They protect wolves and neglect the sheep. Again by definition if you protect wolves and neglect the sheep you are really not a part of the flock. Sad. We love God by doing what he says. That makes us a part of the flock that the Good Shepherd talks about.