Fr. Paul D. Scalia: Shepherds, Not Hirelings

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*Image: Christ as the Good Shepherd by Cornelis Engebrechtsz, c. 1510 [Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam]

By Fr. Paul D. Scalia, The Catholic Thing, April 25, 2021

Fr. Paul Scalia is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, VA, where he serves as Episcopal Vicar for Clergy and Pastor of Saint James in Falls Church. He is the author of That Nothing May Be Lost: Reflections on Catholic Doctrine and Devotion and the editor of Sermons in Times of Crisis: Twelve Homilies to Stir Your Soul.


Fr. Paul D. ScaliaDuring vespers the other week we prayed, “Keep us safe from wolf and hireling.” It was heartening to pray for safety from hirelings. We need to be defended from them – perhaps even more than from wolves. After all, a genuine wolf is somewhat rare; hirelings are abundant. There are few men as wicked as Thomas Cromwell, but plenty as weak as Richard Rich. Further, the hireling’s weakness, cowardice, and greed give the wolf access to the flock. In military terms, the hireling is the wolf’s “force multiplier.”

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In the Gospel (Jn 10:11-18) our Lord contrasts the shepherd and the hireling. That contrast helps to highlight certain requirements for the Church’s shepherds. It establishes something of a job description – and an examination of conscience – for priests. …