St Werburgh's Roman Catholic Parish, Chester

The Good Shepherd

In the course of his ministry, Jesus referred to himself as a good shepherd, one willing to lay down his life for his flock. This statue depicts Jesus literally in that role, following a long-established tradition of portraying the shepherd as a figure of great gentleness, actually carrying a wayward lamb on his own shoulders. In speaking of himself as the good shepherd, Jesus recognises his own divine mission, embodying the protective nature of God as described by the Old Testament psalmist. Yet the life of a shepherd is not an easy one. Sometimes, as in the parable, the shepherd must weigh the need to retrieve a lost animal against the well-being of his entire flock. When he finds that lost sheep, he may well be worn down by the burden of carrying it on his shoulders. And, in the end, the shepherd may indeed be called upon to sacrifice his own life, as does Jesus on the Cross at Calvary.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit.

He guides me along the right path;
He is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort.

You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord's own house shall I dwell
forever and ever.