By Fr. Lou Molinelli, SDB
Our Salesian mission as youth ministers (and we are all youth ministers!) is to be signs and bearers of God’s love for young people. We see the fullness of the manifestation of God’s love in Jesus Christ. And we Salesians use the image of the Good Shepherd as the central focus of our ministry. The Salesian Youth Ministry Frame of Reference highlights some of the qualities of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
First, as the Good Shepherd, Jesus always has a missionary concern. In Luke 4:43-44, we read, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.” Additionally, in the Gospel of John, we read, “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10-16).
St. John Bosco’s mission was to the young who were poorest and most in need. It's no wonder then that we Salesians resonate so well with the image of the Good Shepherd, who leaves the 99 and goes after the one who is lost. The Good Shepherd does not give up until he finds the lost sheep and, with true loving-kindness, carries the sheep back on his shoulders.
Our Salesian spirituality, our way of education, and our process of accompaniment keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open to those people who need us most. Our hearts need to be able to reach beyond our comfort zones and be in the midst of the messiness that comes with ministering to those who need us the most. Our Salesian spirituality seen in Jesus the Good Shepherd carries us while we carry those to whom we are sent to serve.
In what ways is Christ calling you to be a good shepherd? Who have been the good shepherds in your life? Reflecting on these questions will enhance your zeal in our Salesian youth ministry.