Ver. 1, &c. In this parable the fold is the Church: the good shepherd, and also the door is Christ: the thieves and robbers are false guides; the hirelings, such ministers as seek their own profit and gain, and a good living, as they call it; the wolves, heretics; the sheep not yet brought into the fold, the Gentiles not then converted. Wi.
Ver. 3. His own sheep by name. By this is signified the particular care. Wi.
Ver. 4. He goeth before them, leads them by his instructions and example. Wi.
Ver. 8. All they who came are thieves, meaning those who came of their own accord, without being sent: not so the prophets, who had their mission from God. Wi.
Ver. 11. How happy are we in having such a shepherd, so great, so good, so loving, so careful of our true welfare! O he is the true shepherd indeed, that came down from heaven to seek the poor sheep that was lost; and when he found it, took it upon his own shoulders to carry it home with joy to his heavenly fold. How dearly have his sheep cost him, for truly has he made good in himself this sentence, that the good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. Let us then ever follow and obey, love and embrace this true shepherd of our souls. Meditations for every Day, vol. ii. p. 417. The good pastor gives his life for his sheep; he exposes himself to every danger to save them, no inclemency of the weather, no frost or cold, no rains or tempests, can drive him from looking over his sheep, to defend them from the attacks of wolves, &c. and like Jacob he might say, day and night was I parched with heat, and with cold, and sleep departed from my eyes. Gen. xl. Or, like David speaking to Saul: "Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion or a bear, and took a ram out of the midst of the flock; and I pursued after them, and struck them, and delivered it out of their mouths; and they arose up against me, and I caught them by the throat, and I strangled them, and killed them." 1 Kings xvii. This is a model of a true pastor. But Jesus Christ has done more than this for us. He has exposed his life and his repose, he has spilled his blood, he delivered himself to the fury of his enemies, and has offered himself as a victim on the cross to his eternal Father, to free us, his lost sheep, from the most cruel wolf, the devil. And ever since his death he has always protected his Church, assisted and consoled his distressed flock under all their sufferings, pouring into their hearts the consolations of the holy Spirit, and sending to them holy teachers, to govern and lead them in the holy path of salvation. Such were the apostles and their successors, the bishops and priests of the holy Catholic Church, whom he has sent, and will continue to send, to govern his flock to the end of time. Calmet.
Ver. 13. Every bishop and pastor is bound to abide with his flock in the time of danger, and persecution, except himself be personally sought for, rather than his flock, or the flock itself forsake him. In such cases the pastor may fly, as the apostles did, and S. Athanasius and others. S. Athan. Apol. de suâ fugâ. S. Aug. ep. 180.
Ver. 14. I know mine, and mine know me. To know, in the style of the holy Scriptures, is to love and approve. Wi.
Ver. 15. I lay down. That is, in a short time shall lay down my life for my sheep: for all, and in a special manner for my elect. See v. 28. Wi.
Ver. 16. One fold. In the Greek one flock. The signification is the same; that is, there shall be one church of Jews and Gentiles converted. Wi.
Ver. 17. Therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life, &c. Christ here speaketh of himself, as made man for the redemption of mankind: or rather, as he was our Redeemer, both God and man: for he laid down his life, and died as man, and had power to take it up again, as God. Yet the command of laying it down, he as man received from the Father: thus as man, he was obedient to him even to the death on the cross. See Philip. ii. 8. Wi.
Ver. 23. In the gallery of Solomon, which was near the temple, supposed to be attached to the eastern gate of the court, and called beautiful. See Acts iii. 2.
Ver. 24. If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. S. John Baptist had told them several times who Jesus was. See Jo. c. i. He himself had not only owned it in plain terms to the Samaritan woman, (Jo. iv. 26.) but he had frequently delivered this truth so openly to them, that he came from heaven, that he was sent into the world that all men should be saved by believing in him, that he was the Son of God, and one with the Father, that they easily perceived he made himself God: but these men would have him to declare it again, that they might accuse him. Wi.
Ver. 25. The works and miracles that I do in the name of my Father, they give testimony of me, and shew who I am, being foretold by the prophets. See Jo. v. 31, &c. Wi.
Ver. 26. Because you are not of my sheep, refusing to believe in me, and to follow my doctrine, by your own wilful blindness. Wi.
Ver. 27. Christ here says that his sheep hear his voice, and follow him: but let us ask ourselves, Do we cling close to this heavenly shepherd? Do we follow him, both by our faith and by our lives? Do we know him, and hear his voice? Do we fly from strangers, the world, the flesh, and the devil? If so, we are his sheep indeed; and if we persevere, he will bring us, in spite of the world, the flesh, and the devil, to the pastures of eternal life. But if we run away from our shepherd, to follow these strangers, we must expect to fall a prey to wolves. Med. vol. ii. p. 417.
Ver. 28. They shall not perish for ever: and no man shall snatch them out of my hand. He speaks of his elect, of those whom he called by a special Providence and mercy, whom he blessed with more than ordinary graces, and with the gift of final perseverance to the end in his grace. Wi.
Ver. 29. That which my Father hath given† me, is greater than all. We may look upon this as the true reading by Tertullian, S. Hilary, S. Amb. S. Aug. &c. The ancient Fathers make use of these words, to shew the eternal procession of the Son from the Father; and that they are one in nature, substance, power, &c. The reading in the ordinary Greek copies is now different. My Father, who gave me them, (the sheep) is greater than all. No one can snatch, or pull them by force, out of the hand of the Father. He had said just before, no one shall, or can snatch them, out of my hand. And this shews that the hand, that is, the power of the Father and the Son, is equal, is one and the same. See S. Aug. S. Chrysostom, &c. Wi.
[†] V. 29. Pater meus quod dedit mihi, majus est omnibus. See Tertul. l. cont. Praxeam. c. xxii, p. 513. C. Ed. R. S. Hilary, l. vii. de Trin. p. 930. Ed. Ben. S. Amb. l. iii. de Sp. S. c. 18. Ed. Par. 1586. S. Aug. trac. 49. in Joan. p. 616, Quid dedit filio Pater majus omnibus? ut ipse illi esset Unigenitus Filius. S. Chrys. takes notice, that by the hand of the Father, is here understood his power. And that it follows from hence, that the power or hand of the Father and the Son is equal, is one and the same: and if their power, says he, is the same, so is their substance, ei de h dunamiV h auth, endhlon oti kai h ousia. om. xa. in Joan. 363. tom. viii. nov. Ed. Ben.
Ver. 30. I and the Father are one,† or one being, not one person, nor one by an union of affection only, but in nature, substance, power, and other perfections, as appears by the whole text: for Christ here tells them that none of his elect shall perish, because no one can snatch them out of his hands, no more than out of the hands of his Father: and then adds, that he and his Father are one, or have one equal power: and if their power, says S. Chrys. is the same, so is their substance. Christ adds, (v. 38.) that the Father is in him, and he in the Father; which also shews an union of nature and substance, and not only of love and affection, especially when taken with other words of our Saviour Christ. Wi.
[†] V. 30. Unum sumus, en esmen, i.e. says S. Chrys. secundum potentiam. kata thn dunamin entauqa legwn. See S. Cyril, p. 667. S. Aug. tract. 49. p. 617, Huc usque Judæi tolerare potuerunt . . . tunc verò more suo duri ad lapides concurrunt . . . ideo irati sunt, quia senserunt non posse dici, Ego et pater unum sumus, nisi ubi æqualitas est Patris et Filii. . . . Ecce intelligunt Judæi, quod not intellligunt Ariani.
Ver. 31. Then took up stones, &c. because, said they, being a man, thou makest thyself God. The Jews, says S. Aug. understood well enough what the Arians will not understand, that from Christ's words it followed that he was one and the same God with the eternal Father. Wi.
--- The Jews, in opposition to our Saviour's doctrine, took up stones to destroy him, in order that he might preach no more to them. So heretics at the present time exercise the odium of their impiety against the same Lord, by perverting his holy doctrines, and, as much as in them lies, pulling him and his servants down from the glorious seats of heavenly bliss. S. Aug.
Ver. 34. This is addressed to princes established to govern the people of God. They are the image of God on earth by the authority they exercise, and which they have received from Him.
--- Is it not written in your law, (under which were also comprehended the Psalms) I have said: you are Gods? &c. Christ here stops the mouths of the Jews, by an argument which they could not answer, that sometimes they were called Gods, who acted by God's authority. I have said: you are Gods. Psal. lxxxi. 6. But then he immediately declares, that it is not in this sense only that he is God. 1st, Because he has been sanctified by the Father, which S. Aug. and others understand of that infinite sanctification, which he has necessarily by always proceeding from the Father. Others expound it of a greater sanctity and fulness of grace above all other saints, given to him, even as he was man. But 2dly, he adds at the same time, and confirms what he had often told them, that he was the Son of God, sent into the world: that his works shew that he was in the Father, and the Father in him. By this they saw that he was far from recalling or contradicting what he had said before. And therefore (v. 30.) they sought to apprehend him, and put him to death for blasphemy. Wi.
--- Eloim, which name of God was so called from judging, and may be interpreted judges. M.
Ver. 39. And he escaped out of their hands; perhaps making himself invisible, or hindering them by his divine power. Wi.