BY: Bishop Gerald M. Musa

Acts 4:8-12; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18

Today, we live in a world where superficial love is more common than sacrificial love. Superficial love is that form of affection that lacks depth, sincerity or emotional connection. In short, this kind of love is based on external or material factors such as physical appearance, material possessions and social status. True love is hard to find, and this could be the reason why a pop singer, Mary J. Blige sang a famous song in 1992 titled “Real Love.” She expressed herself from the depth of her heart singing, “See, I’m searching for a real love and I don’t know where to go…” She sang as a woman who was exploited by many in the name of love and at a time when it was difficult to find someone who truly loved without strings attached. Love has been reduced to a transactional relationship where people satisfy their temporal desires rather than showing genuine compassion and concern for the people that they love. In short, superficial love is about what I can get from you rather than what I can offer you. Superficial love leaves people empty, unfulfilled and dissatisfied because it is temporal, materialistic, and based on physical and material factors.


In contrast, there is a greater and more superior love which is called Sacrificial love. It is also known as Agape love, which is the act of giving oneself totally for the benefit or well-being of others, without expecting anything in return. Unlike superficial love, sacrificial love is unconditional and goes beyond physical and material gains. It seeks the happiness of others, and it is guided by compassion, kindness, and selfless service towards others. This sacrificial love can be seen in the sacrifices parents make for their children to help them grow and to make them greater than themselves. This sacrificial love is explicit in a home where a husband and wife live together, support each other, and make sacrifices to make each other happy. Sacrificial love is demonstrated among friends who genuinely love one another, encourage one another, and help one another as in the case of David and Jonathan.

As a deeply spiritual leader, Jesus demonstrates the power of sacrificial love in laying down his life for his flock. He courageously says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). His love transcends the common and superficial love of bad leaders who are under the corrupting influence of power. Furthermore, the teaching of Jesus goes contrary to bad leaders who use manipulation and violence to secure and maintain power and who are after personal gains. His teaching says the privileged position of power is not to oppress or exploit but to be used for selfless service, love, peace, and justice.

In addition, Jesus shows that he is a Good Shepherd who is ready to sacrifice his life for the sake of his flock, unlike a hired shepherd who abandons the flock in times of danger. He says, “He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them” (John 10:12). Jesus highlights the difference between himself and those who merely serve for personal gain or self-interest. The hired hand lacks the deep commitment and ownership of the sheep that the shepherd possesses. When faced with danger, the hired hand prioritizes self-preservation over the safety of the flock. This hireling serves as a metaphor for false leaders who exploit or neglect their followers.

Besides, Jesus shows his sacrificial love for his flock in the knowledge of his followers when he says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:14). You cannot love someone or people without knowing them. Some say that relationship is not only sustained by love alone, but by knowledge and understanding. Couples and friends who understand one another are more likely to live a happy relationship than those who continue to see themselves as strangers. The image of knowing and being known signifies a deep, personal connection characterized by mutual trust and understanding.

In the biblical context, the word Shepherd is used as a metaphor to describe God and human leaders, especially kings and religious leaders. By extension, a shepherd is someone who is entrusted with responsibility over others and his role is to care and provide for the flock and lead them to greener pastures and fresh water, protecting them from danger and ensuring their well-being. A good shepherd shows compassion and love towards the sheep, even to the point of self-sacrifice. A good shepherd is someone who has authority and can exercise this authority with humility, love, and wisdom. In our journey of life, we have come across different shepherds. Scripture instructs us: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7).

As leaders, parents, teachers, and guardians we are called to imitate Jesus by demonstrating sacrificial love rather than superficial love to those whom God has placed under our care. Holy Scriptures admonish us: “Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory” (I Peter 5: 2-4). In as much as the shepherd has a big role to play in the life of the sheep, the sheep also have their responsibilities. As sheep, you are to “Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).

The Fourth Sunday after Easter is also known as Good Shepherd or Vocation Sunday and so, we are to pray that the Lord will inspire more people to join the priestly and religious life. We live in an age where everyone enjoys the backseat and no one wants to step forward for the positions of leadership. Everyone wants to be a sheep and only a few are willing to be shepherds. There is hardly any diocese today that has enough priests and so we need to encourage our children and relations who are willing to serve in the vineyard of the Lord. Shepherds are taken from among the sheep, just like the seeds planted by farmers are taken from the seeds of the harvest. We pray not only for more shepherds but also for shepherds who will imitate the sacrificial love of the Good Shepherd, Jesus.


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