Published in Davao Catholic HERALD
April 13, 2008
One astonishing reality that exists in the seminary among seminarians is what we dubbed as sub-culture. In the Pre-College, for instance, where I am assigned for two years now, just a simple mention of the word kambing and pechay by the formator, every seminarian understands that he is reminding them to take care of their vocation (pechay) against anything that would endanger it (kambing).
Thanks to the power of metaphorical language like parables and analogies, everyone could get the message immediately without resorting to explicit explanations.
As I was reflecting on the Gospel this Sunday, I was astonished by what
I am quite sure that the Pharisees, who were supposed to be well-versed of the Scriptures, knew that the Parable of the Shepherd has a rich tradition from the Old Testament. Yahweh is the shepherd of the people (Cfr. Gen 49:24; Psalm 23).
Using this figure of speech, Jesus was telling them: I am the Good Shepherd. Still, they couldn’t recognize the voice of the shepherd. Simply because they do not belong to the sheepfold. If they don’t belong, it’s not that they can’t; it’s just that they won’t. And that’s quite different!
* * *
Some biblical scholars find two separate parables in verses 1-5. “Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.” (vv. 1-3a)
Some leaders enter into the lives of people by force and/or even deceit. These are the ones that push their own agenda on the people without consulting their constituents first. They enter the sheepfold elsewhere driven by the force of their selfish interest.
How we pray that our Honorable City Councilors would show greater authentic leadership as they tackle this week the Local Development Plan for Children legislation! How we pray that they would “enter through the gate” of the people’s interest and be sensitive to the voice of the Davaoeños and the local Church, the People of God!
A Bulgarian Proverb says: “If you cannot serve, you cannot rule.” If the LDPC cannot serve the good of our children, it cannot rule!
* * *
“The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.”
Jesus is the Good Shepherd because He leads by entering first into our lives, making Himself like us, becoming one of us in every aspect except sin. I said except sin because sin has never been an essential part of our being. It was just accidental; an accessory to misused freedom.
Freedom is misused when it does not recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd. The power that determines man from within to tend towards the attainment of the good becomes self-destructive when it fails to recognize the voice of the One “who calls his own sheep by name”.
* * *
And freedom fails to recognize that voice when it listens to its own voice. When freedom fails to recognize the voice of the Truth and instead, fashions its own “truth”, it becomes self-destructive.
Many people today would say that freedom and truth are wholly separable, since anyone is free to affirm the truth and abide by it, to ignore the truth, or even to deny it and act against it. If freedom were bound by the truth, they ask, how could it be freedom?
In his first encyclical Redemptor Hominis (1979), John Paul II quoted the words of Christ, "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." He added: "These words contain both a fundamental requirement and a warning: the requirement of an honest relationship with regard to truth as a condition for authentic freedom, and the warning to avoid every kind of illusory freedom, every superficial unilateral freedom, every freedom that fails to enter into the whole truth about man and the world."
* * *
I THINK the LDPC fails to recognize the voice of the truth, the truth about the “proper moral orientation in the psycho-sexual and emotional growth and education of children” (Archbishop Capalla’s Pastoral Statement). To approve it without first discerning carefully the voice of the Good Shepherd could be very self-destructive!