Acts 4:8-12; Ps 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29; 1 Jn 3:1-2; Jn 10:11-18
We’ve perhaps become so familiar with the tender image of the Good Shepherd carrying a lost lamb on his shoulders, that we might easily overlook the urgency of its message. The Shepherd and the sheep, if you recall, are not the only actors in the fable. Christ also mentions the presence of the wolf. And though he doesn’t describe the wolf in any detail, its background presence points to an unsettling truth: humanity has an enemy whom he cannot match in strength and cunning; we stand before the power of evil as a sheep stands before a wolf. Apart from the Shepherd and His flock, our prospects are not good.
As Christ presents it, in other words, the world is not a safe place. It is the theater of a “high-stakes” drama. If we take Christ at his word, then He and His Church are not simply optional extras for those who need the “crutch” of religion. They are our hope of salvation. Peter makes this teaching the center of his preaching, insisting, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” He also describes Christ as a “cornerstone,” implying the existence of a building—i.e., the “Church”—in which Christians seek refuge from the wolf.
Important questions arise. How exactly does the wolf go about seeking to destroy us? And how exactly does the Shepherd go about defending us? Read the rest of this entry »