The Good Shepherd
Given by The Right Reverend Roger Chung Po Chuen Bishop of Antsiranana, Madagascar
The Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean
The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep but the hired servant, the mercenary runs for his life and abandons the sheep when he sees the wolf attacking the flock because the sheep do not belong to him. It is not always easy to be a good shepherd. It can be a strenuous, draining ministry and the only way we can be faithful shepherds is by sitting at the feet of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
I am a Mauritian of Chinese descent in a new Malagasy African culture. I am still adapting to this cross-cultural mission, learning the Malagasy language and trying to be a good Shepherd to my poverty stricken Diocese.
David a mere shepherd boy faced lions and bears before defeating the giant Goliath and he only used a sling and no heavy armour to triumph. It is this David who receives the mission charge ‘you shall be Shepherd of my people’.
When I was a parish priest in the island of Mauritius , my former Bishop asked me , “Is it safe to go to this parish which is in a predominantly Muslim area?” and I replied, “Jesus Christ is with us and so it should be safe as I go there nearly every day as the Parish priest.” Faith in God can go hand in hand with fear of men in some sensitive regions of the world.
Jesus asked Peter, the emerging new shepherd as he also asks us today: ‘Do you love me? ...then feed my lambs, Tend my sheep and feed my sheep.’
In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell makes the assertion that “everything rises and falls on leadership”. Maxwell argues that any endeavour that involves using other people to achieve its goals necessarily requires leadership. So how do we assess our mission, our leadership our shepherding?
We can say that everything rises and falls on our faith in and commitment to the Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Let us hold on to the one who died on the cross for us and who takes away our sins and leads us to life everlasting.
When Philip met the Ethiopian Eunuch, he read the text... ‘As a sheep led to the slaughter or a lamb before its shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth; in his humiliation justice was denied him...’
Martyrdom is a reality and some shepherds may be called upon to face this ultimate test. Many missionaries and shepherds in this world and some of us may even have to face this ultimate test of faith But Jesus told us that he will be with us until the end. The good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep because he loves them with the Father’s love ... and all of us, Bishops-shepherds are living testimonies on the mission field imitating Christ our Lord.
As shepherds we will have in our flock both the good sheep and the bad sheep. However like shepherds and in company with wounded shepherds like Moses, Elijah and Paul, let us serve the Lord God Almighty with a renewed vision of The Anglican Communion in Mission and Evangelism.
Let us continue to pray and love and serve God's people in our global Church where God's love overflows and Jesus Christ the Head inspires us in our shepherding in the power of the Holy Spirit until He comes back in glory.