Are we called to be ‘sheeple’?

John 10:27-30. The Good Shepherd

The analogy of Jesus as the Good Shepherd may make us think that in this representation, we are powerless sheep incapable of living without a leader. In a sense this may be true, because we recognize the Higher Power, and in our humility, we realize how powerless we could be in the grand scheme of things.

Thus, a meme is born – sheeples. This is a pejorative to describe behavior that is perceived to be blindly complying and conforming without sense of reasoning. But at the same time, conspiracy theorists would exclaim, “wake up, sheeple!” to provoke us into considering a radical or absurd worldview. As a meme, this is done in humor or via satire; but taken seriously, this characterizes how gullible we could be as a society.

As I try to reinterpret the Good Shepherd representation, I think this is less about the sheep and more about the responsibility of an authentic benevolent shepherd. The Good Shepherd dignifies and treats His sheep as creatures of importance, not subjects to be exploited. In a way, the Good Shepherd is less about a leader’s power but more about the vocation of servant leadership, to know the needs of the flock and find ways to care and nourish the flock.

We are called to think both like a shepherd and a sheep, like leader and follower. The foundational principle is dignity: a shepherd cannot be without sheep; and the sheep loses the social identity of the flock without the guidance of the shepherd.

As we vote tomorrow, we are not called to be sheeple. We are called to be authentic people capable of understanding the role of a sheep and a shepherd – follower and leader – towards societal flourishing.

[DAILY GOSPEL INSIGHTS AND REFLECTION FOR MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATION 128: MAY 8, 2022]

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