A man called into a Christian radio talk show to ask what to do about his wife who was constantly nagging him despite all his attempts to be a good leader in the family. The show’s host replied, “Maybe she is nagging you because you are trying to lead your family without actually becoming more like Jesus Christ.” I have been reflecting deeply on the host’s reply.
We usually dwell on the nagging and complaining that we receive for things that we did or did not do but we seldom reflect on how such naggings are reminders that we are not yet like the Jesus we claim to follow as the Shepherd of our souls. Jesus Himself assured us that we would face violent persecutions because people do not yet see Him in us; “They will do these things because they have not known the Father or me” (Jn 16:3).
We find three things about the way that Jesus leads us as the Good Shepherd that should guide us in our relationships with each other.
Firstly, Jesus knows His flock very well, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them.” He truly became one like us to be present with us and to share in all that we experience, except sin. He knows our light and darkness, our strengths and weaknesses, our joys and pains, our vices, virtues, our hopes, and regrets. He knows our fears, anxieties, pains, and worries and all that we are going through now. He also knows the great saints that we can become by His grace.
Secondly, Jesus gives His flock what they really need the most – Eternal life i.e. the fullness of life with God, perfect joy, and peace, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” He does not give us what we want but what we truly need here on earth and for eternal life with God. He offers us saving truth, divine forgiveness, graces, good examples, faith, hope, love, etc. He even offers us comfort for every pain we bear for Him in this life, “God will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Rev 7:17).
Lastly, Jesus freely sacrifices His own life to give us that participation in the divine life that we long for, “The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” He did this so that we belong to Him forever, “No one can take them out of my hand” (See Jn 10).
When people nagged and complained about Jesus, they did not do so because He was in any way a flawed revelation of the Father in His person, words, or actions. Remember, “He (Jesus) has done all things well” (Mk 7:37). They complained and criticized Him because they were envious of Him as Pilate Himself attested, “Pilate knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered Him up” (Mt 27:18). Jesus, the Good Shepherd, thus becomes the model and the source of our right relationship with each other.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, there is a crisis in leadership in our world today. This crisis begins in the family and spreads to the Church, society, country, and world. We have so many people who want to lead in the family, Church, and world, but few who are ready to become like Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Consequently, people end up nagging and complaining because they do not see Christ’s virtues and attitudes at all in our civil and religious leaders. Just take a cursory look at social media and see the avalanche of nagging and criticism against leaders on all levels of society and the Church.
Many parents do not really know their children or what they are going through. Many parents focus on providing only material needs for their children. These needs are sometimes dictated by the spirit of the world and not by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Children are left lacking in the emotional and spiritual needs that would orient them to seek the enduring things of the afterlife. Think of parents today who are leading their children on the so-called “gender transitioning.” How can we even speak of sacrificing something for the children when many families are comfortable with destroying the life of the unborn infant in the mother’s womb?
This crisis of leadership in the family trickles down to the Church and society. The same parents who destroy the life of their unborn babies and those who see nothing wrong with it elect into public office candidates who are staunch supporters of infanticide. Those who encourage, support, and perform the slaughter of the unborn then nonchalantly receive the precious body and blood of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, in Holy Communion from the leaders in the Church.
Leaders in the Church themselves cover up the sexual abuse by other leaders in the Church while ignoring the wounded victims. Church leaders lack the faith and courage to correct and so remain quiet while errant clergy spew heresy in faith and morals and corrupt the flock of Christ. Imagine the endless nagging and criticism that should rightly follow this wicked cycle of failed leadership.
One way out of this crisis of leadership is to emphasize that it is not enough to want to lead; our domestic, civil, and ecclesial leaders must also become like Jesus, the Good Shepherd. It is not enough to have leaders in the Church smelling like the sheep but with no resemblance at all to Christ, the Good Shepherd.
We need leaders in the image of the Good Shepherd within and outside the Church who know their flock well and understand what they are going through each day to survive and to be faithful to their Christian vocation. Such leaders cannot be disconnected from their flock. We also need those good shepherds who can discern what the people of God really need each day, especially truth, justice, peace, and the grace of the sacraments. We do not need Church leaders who care more about our vaccine status than the state of our immortal souls because they are fixated on their own agendas. Lastly, we need leaders who are ready to pay the price needed to bring Christ to souls and bring souls to Christ.
Let us reflect on saints Paul and Barnabas, leaders with the mind and heart of the Good Shepherd. They freely preached the word of God to the people of Antioch, giving them the Good News that they needed the most. They were also ready to pay the price of leading souls to Christ. They experienced jealousy from the Jews, they were “violently abused and contradicted,” and “persecuted and expelled” from Antioch by their brother Jews. In the end, “the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit” (See Acts 13).
Isn’t this what the Good Shepherd wants for us: to be filled with His joy and Spirit despite our conditions in this life? “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). God wants His people to be joyful and at peace and not endlessly complaining and nagging their leaders.
For us to experience the abundant life that the Good Shepherd offers us, we must first embrace our Christian vocation to lead others to Jesus and to be like Jesus too as we lead. We are not called to leadership of domination but one of humble service and sacrifice. The more we become like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the better we can see and elect leaders with the heart and mind of the one and only Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. This is how we will have civil and religious leaders that will bring us lasting peace, justice, and progress, and not leaders that will be nagged and criticized all the time.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!