The Good Shepherd is an archetypal model for the priest.
The great Pope John Paul II in his writing on Pastores Dabo Vobis (PDV) in the late 20th century about priestly formation in our present-day points out that:
“Indeed, the priest, by virtue of the consecration which he receives in the sacrament of orders, is sent forth
by the Father through the mediatorship of Jesus Christ, to whom he is configured in a special way as head and shepherd of his people, in order to live and work by the power of the Holy Spirit in service of the Church and for the salvation of the world”
This affirmation shows a genuine and deep understanding of the specific ontological link which draws ...view middle of the document...
It is through his ministerial work as a good shepherd the church holds its teaching that, the good shepherd is the symbol that unites the priesthood which is given in the sacrament. It also reveals the pastoral charity which expresses the true image and love of the priesthood of Jesus. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains sacrament as “... An outward sign of inward grace” In other words, the holy order is an outward symbol of an interior grace given by Christ himself. The sacrament of Holy Orders therefore, gives the man (the priest) an act to perpetuate the royal priesthood of Jesus Christ in pastoral charity. This is so, because Christ uncovered in himself a complete and a true image of the priesthood and of the mediatorship between God and man (the New Covenant). By doing so, Christ offered himself for the sins of all people through his passion, death and resurrection. Through the role of his mediatorship he emptied himself to die on the cross of Calvary- a death he freely accepted. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he pointed out that Jesus Christ “Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped. But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross”
This expression of Christ perfect humility shows that he is the shepherd who was to come “not to be served but to serve” .One might ask how is this necessary to forming of priests in the Catholic Church. Pastores Dabo Vobis pointed out that “with the one definitive sacrifice of the cross, Jesus communicated to all his disciples the dignity and mission of priest of the new and eternal covenant“
This shows why the church strongly believes to have the true image and authority of Jesus Christ through Peter his apostle. The priest himself is shaped to become a good shepherd in the person of Christ (Persona Christi). It is through this he (the priest) is encouraged by the church to have a lifelong commitments to celibacy in chastity and obedient to his Bishop.
The aim of this practical priestly life is to unite the priest himself with the pastoral charity of Jesus Christ who holds up for us the true image of the good shepherd. This view is clearly expressed in Pastores Dabo Vobis that “the whole formation imparted to candidates for priesthood aims at preparing them to enter into communion with the charity of Christ the good Shepherd”, provide the candidate has a pastoral heart.
I want to share by reflecting on what it means to be configured in the person of Christ the good shepherd. Every priest represents Christ in his little ways - by taking the place of Christ, he is shaped and formed to become like him the good shepherd. The gospel of St John also gives a good insight of what it means to be a good shepherd. John quoted Jesus exact...