By: Rev. Wilfrid J. Diamond
In England many years ago there was a general named the Duke of Monmouth. His army was hopelessly defeated in battle and Monmouth was forced to flee for his life. He hid in the fields all day and traveled every night. Finally, his enemies caught up with him. They chased him into a shepherd's hut. Instead of closing the door on poor Monmouth the shepherd did a brave thing. He changed clothes with the Duke and stepped out to meet his foes. Long and well he fought, trying to delay the soldiers until Monmouth could make his escape. He held them off with his sword, for three hours, until he fell exhausted and was killed. The Duke of Monmouth by this time was far away and safe - saved by a good shepherd.
In the war against sin, people have always been pursued by the devil. But Our Lord became a man and fought the devil for three hours on the Cross of Calvary until He too was slain. During the struggle sinful man was able to escape from the devil's power. That is why Our Lord has a perfect right to call Himself the Good Shepherd Who lays down His life for His sheep. Over and over agin He tells us that He is the Shepherd of souls. "If a man has a hundred sheep and loses one, does he not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after that which was lost?" "Other sheep I have that are not of this fold; them also must I bring."
What wonderful things our souls must be if Christ the Good Shepherd is willing to lose his life to save them. We should always keep this in mind. We have something within ourselves which is very valuable, something which we treasure and guard. To be the Shepherd of our souls Christ came down to earth. Sheep go to the shepherd for all their needs. For food - Christ has given Himself in the Eucharist to be the food of our souls. For water - our souls drink the sweet waters of Christ in Baptism. For healing - Christ heals the wounds of our souls in the sacrament of Penance. For guidance - whenever we go astray Christ draws us back to Him as the shepherd draws back his sheep with his crook. For protection - the good shepherd will lay down his life for his sheep and Christ died on the cross for us. What wonderful things Christ has done for our souls! What wonderful things our souls must be! We should treasure them and not do anything that will make them displeasing to their Shepherd.
Just as the shepherd died to save the Duke of Monmouth, so did Christ die on Calvary to save us. That is why He has a perfect right to say, "I am the Good Shepherd. I lay down my life for my sheep."