The Good Shepherd
In the Eastern Hemisphere the function of the shepherd was carried out by the owner of the flock himself. The flock represented his only wealth which could be quantified by the numer of sheep he possessed. While the shepherd and sheep-farming was the essential pivot of the village’s economy, it was an activity that was not taken into consideration or respected. Despite being the spine of the social structure, shepherds were considered on the outskirts, dirty, without principles or morals, dreamers.
The shepherd had no defined working hours, holidays or vacations. There was no night, day, or even regular sleeping time; the flock needed to be tended to in all weather conditions and at all times. The shepherd, who knew each and every sheep individually as well as their needs, had to keep watch in order to be ready to defend the flock from wolves, bears and thieves.
The shepherd was armed with a rod and staff, a curved stick to lift lambs which had fallen into holes or down precipices. He ate raisins, bread, cheese and olives which he carried in a leather purse. Shepherds were almost always singers and musicians who knew how to play various instruments during the long hours and the solitude under the sun or holed up with a fire in a grotto.
Jesus called himself a shepherd, the real shepherd of humanity, the only shepherd who is ready to offer his life for his flock.
Jesus presents himself to humanity as the only shepherd and he gives us a particular perspective of what kind of a shepherd he is and, to give a radical, determinant connotation, he uses the term kalòs, generally translated as good. To be truthful, kalòs principally expressed the concept of beautiful, excellent, eminent, first choice, precious, useful, appropriate, commendable, admirable. Other, less frequent meanings of the word are: to see, made well, magnificent, excellent in its nature and characteristics, and thus adapt for its purposes, genuine, approved, precious, thus good. In conjuction with the names of individuals designating their jobs, it defines the concept of competent, capable, noble, beautiful because of its purity of heart and of life, thus praiseworthy, morally good, noble, honorable, that which influences the mind in a good way, comforting and confirming.
Jesus has indicated beauty as his own distinguishing connotation, He defines himself as the good the shepherd. He repeats in this page over and over that he is the good shepherd, the only one who lays down his life for his sheep; the others with no uncertain terms, are thieves, imposters and mercenaries.
The term kalòs, beautiful, is not a note of color, or simply a descriptive term, but a wonderful view into the true face of Jesus God, the beautiful one.
Jesus considers it important to confirm that he is the shepherd, the good one, the one who has God’s singular grace and whose beauty is breathtaking. Of course Jesus is the essence of goodness and of mercy, but he wants to be known, recognized, loved and considered for his beauty.