THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER THE GOSPEL JOHN 10 V.11 SATURDAY MEDITATION
GOSPEL Jn 10:11-16.
At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep: And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me. As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep. And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.
As it is one principal property of a good shepherd to know his sheep very exactly and in particular, that he may the better do his Office unto them, in so much that the Latin word for a Bishop which is Episcopus, signify a diligent over-seer, or looker into his flock.
So a principal property of good sheep is to know their shepherd, and therefore immediately after Christ had said, I am a good shepherd and know my sheep, he addeth: and my sheep know me.
Though this word (know) doth properly signify an act of the underſtanding and according to this signification as it is necessary for a Shepherd to know his sheep, so is it for sheep to know their shepherd, not so exactly as the shepherd his sheep, but that he is a shepherd lawfully ſent by the authority of the Catholic Church, and being ſo ſent is sufficient to guide them, and will teach them nothing but Catholic doctrine: and if in case he live not well for as much as he sits in the chair of St. Peter, our Moses, to follow his doctrine not his life, and have patience till: be removed by order of the Church, which will be done no doubt in due time unless he amend: This knowledge is sufficient for a sheep to have of his shepherd, but, as I said before though knowledge signify properly an act of the understanding , yet here it signify also Love, which is an act of the will, so that Christ saying here, as my Father knoweth, so I know my Father, & my sheep, know me, the meaning is, as my Father loveth me, so I love my sheep and my sheep love me.
That this word (know) may signify (Love) appeareth in that Christ ſaid to the foolish Virgins that came to give their attendance to late when the door was shut, I know you not, meaning I love, or like you not.
A motive for us to love our Pastor is because he is ordained of God to give us the food of our souls, which if he doth well he is worthy of double honor, if we love them that feed our bodies much more that feed our souls, and indeed, if we consider it well we cannot love them enough.
But as Gregory sayth that shepherd that will not give his worldly substance for his ſheep if need be, will hardly give his life: So, that sheep that will not contribute, if need be to the sufficient maintenance of his shepherd, loveth not his shepherd as he ought, & consequently is no good sheep: for as Christ said, that shepherd that would not give his life for his sheep, was not a shepherd; o that ſheep that loveth not his shepherd so well as to yield him sufficient maintenance to live in decent manner is not a sheep: that is the double honor S. Paul meaneth in the place before alleged.
A fearful thing you will say it is, not to be a sheep of Christ.
This is our comfort, if we be not to day we may be tomorrow, we may always while we live be of the number of them of whom Christ sayth here, I have other sheep; I have other sheep which though they be not now, they may be at another time, yeast the last end of their life (though it be dangerous to defer it till then) of the number of those, both Jews and gentiles whom I must bring to hear my voice & there shall be made one sheepfold and one shepherd.
Of this S. Augustine thus, upon theſe words of Christ, No man can come to me unless my Father draw him: If thou be not drawn drawn, pray thou may be drawn, if thou be not called, pray thou may be called, and if thou be called, revolve oftentimes in thy mind, this sentence of S. John, hold fast what thou hast, least another come & take thy Crown from thee.
When a ship is in the port or haven least it be carried forth with a Tempest they cast four Anchors, one on each side before and behind.
So we if we will remain safe in the haven of the grace of God, when we are there we must stay ourselves with these four anchors; a firm purpose to avoid sin at least mortal: continual prayer at certain accustomed times, especially upon holy-days and Sundays frequent use of the holy Eucharist and diligent consideration of the manifold benefits of God.