Remembering Ourselves As Sheep of the Good Shepherd

BY FR. AARON PIERRE, S.J. | April 22nd, 2024
Sunday readings

My eyes stared blankly across the dinner table in my Jesuit community after my first day of teaching. I felt as if I had been flattened by the same school bus I had driven an hour earlier. Although I had spent the summer taking a few crash courses in educational pedagogy, the first day of class hit me with the reality that I was severely underprepared. In those early weeks of teaching, I wore my insecurity on my sleeves as I tried to convince myself, and my students, that I knew what I was doing.

Curiously, my self-doubt opened a point of connection with the young people I taught. Many doubted their lovability, questioned their self-worth, wrestled with racial stereotypes, fought against depression, and feared rejection from their peers. The more I grew to love them, the more I embraced my own insecurities and doubts. Who am I? Where am I going? What am I contributing to this world?

Today’s readings tell us that our most foundational identity is as God’s children, as sheep of the Good Shepherd: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” The God who loves us into being always highlights our unique gifts, fosters our dreams, and shows us how to risk giving ourselves to others in the pursuit of justice. In a world that divides us and shells out self-doubt for free, finding our identity as God’s children is daily challenge.

While my pedagogy improved over three years, I was never a stellar teacher. I learned, however, to be a huge fan of my students, sometimes seeing their goodness when they struggled to see it themselves. Jesus, the Good Shepherd is always seeing our goodness, caring for our needs, and leading us to flourishing. In our quest to live out the gospel, let’s first be sure we are grounded in our identity as God’s children, always aware that who we are guides what we do, not the other way around.

1 reply
  1. Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight
    Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    As Fr. Pierre notes, who we are is the gift we have to offer to others and to our God. The Good Shepherd guides us from the time of our Baptism until our final breath. Some of the decisions I make, I first think of what would be the answer of a baptised person in a time of conflict, what would lead the person to knowing/loving/serving God better as Fr. Pierre’s students began to see as the focus of his teaching was more and more about them. Our compassion of the other in light of the needs they have are of paramount importance to our encounter/engagement. The Good Shepherd guides and protects our work and supports and encourages our following the needs of others.


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