Rarely do we see carabaos these days except in far-flung areas from the city, where they are also becoming scarce. A youtube video showed the close bond between a carabao and his farmer-owner, which was at first so inspiring. They farmer feeds, bathes, keeps safe his animal. The carabao in turn, works the fields. It gives milk to the family. It pulls the cart which is the family’s mode of transportation. It is like a member of the family, a provider for the family, a loyal friend.

It is so tempting to envision that when a carabao is old, the farmer releases it from its yoke and allows it to die in peace in the stable. But no, when the carabao is old and useless, the farmer drags him to the slaughterhouse, sells it to butchers, and makes a final profit from his animal’s toil and loyalty.

We are warned when we read any mention of shepherds in the Bible that not all shepherds are meek, pious souls. They are experienced laborers in the wilderness and so they are rough, mischievous, often inclined to violence among themselves.  Shepherds, like carabao owners, can seem inseparable from the flock. But remember that the flock is not their pets. Shepherds are businessmen, owners who make a living out of the flock and make profit from their livestock.  They did not become shepherds to feed our imagination of loving, caring, tender animal-advocates!

That is why the Good Shepherd stands out among the rest of the shepherds. Unexpectedly, he develops an affection for sheep and thinks only of their welfare. While other shepherds, like carabao owners, think of how to make profit from every fiber of their animals, the Good Shepherd reverses the attitude. He does not expect the flock to sustain him. He offers his life to protect and nurture his flock. Seems impractical and unthinkable!

The gospel today (Jn 10: 27-30) says that the Good Shepherd is over-protective of the flock, so that “no one can take” a single sheep “from his hand.”  This is the attitude that only the Good Shepherd, only Jesus, possesses. From it, we can see how loving, merciful, solicitous, caring and devoted the Good Shepherd it. And this attitude reflects the heart of the Father himself who Jesus says, does not allow anyone to take the sheep from his hand. Truly in commitment to the flock, the Father and the Lord Jesus are one!

Can we be good shepherds to others, too? In our families, schools, offices, factories, parishes and neighborhoods, can we love like Jesus and the Father? In this election period, can we choose candidates who can be good shepherds for our nation?