Service for free

Moments in Philippine Daily Inquirer by Fr Jerry Orbos SVD

In the Gospel according to John 10, 11-18, Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd, describing a good shepherd as one who is willing to give to his sheep his service, and his very life, for free. A hired man, on the other hand, is one who gives service not for free, but for a fee. He has no real concern for the sheep because his real and only concern is the money. Urgently needed in our country especially these days: good shepherds who serve with concern, and for free.

One other characteristic of a good shepherd is that of the sheep knowing him or her, and he or she being known by the sheep. This implies closeness and intimacy between the shepherd and the sheep. In other words, the good shepherd must be in touch with the sheep, someone who is online and on call 24/7. Pope Francis admonishes priest-shepherds in particular to be generous with their time, and who do not mind “smelling” like their sheep.

Are our institutions “sheep”-friendly? Pope Francis challenges us to make sure that our structures, organizations and institutions are open and are within the reach not only by the rich, but especially by the poor, the outcasts and the marginalized. Are our institutions like caves where people are welcome and where people can seek refuge, or have they become walls that shut out and drive away people?

A prayerful person, one who really listens to the Good Shepherd, cannot help but really become humble, compassionate and kind toward others. If we really listen long and hard enough to the Lord in prayer, we will end up not being bossy, proud, mean and uncaring persons.

If our so-called “spirituality” has not made us kinder persons, then our spirituality is all a make-believe, an illusion, a decoration. Earnest and constant listening to God’s word should lead us to obey Him and follow His will, not our worldly and selfish agenda.

Again, humility is the key for us to become good shepherds, and it all starts with the realization that we are sinners, and that without Him, we are nothing, and can do nothing.

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