Sermon by St. Gregory the Pope
Dearly beloved, ye have heard from the Holy Gospel what is at once your instruction, and our danger. For behold what Christ saith concerning goodness! He himself is good, not from any gift of nature bestowed upon him, but by the very essence of his being, and he saith: I am the Good Shepherd. And then he saith what is the character of his goodness, even of that goodness of his which we must strive to copy: The Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. As he had foretold, even so did he; what he had commanded, that he exemplified. The Good Shepherd gave his life for the sheep, and made his own body and his own blood to be our Sacramental Food, pasturing upon his own Flesh the sheep whom he had bought.
He, by despising death, hath shewn us how to do the like; he hath set before us the mould wherein it behoveth us to be cast. Our first duty is, freely and tenderly to spend our outward things for his sheep, but lastly, if need be, to serve the same by our death also. From the light offering of the first, we go on to the stern offering of the last; and, if we be ready to give our life for the sheep, why should we scruple to give our substance, seeing how much more is the life than meat?
And some there be which love the things of this world better than they love the sheep. All such as they no longer deserve to be called shepherds. For these are they of whom it is written: But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth. Such an one as this is not a shepherd but an hireling, which feedeth the Lord's sheep, not because he loveth their souls, but because he obtaineth earthly gain thereby. He that taketh upon himself a shepherd's place, but seeketh not gain of souls, that same is but an hireling; such an one is ever ready for creature-comforts, he loveth his pre-eminence, he groweth sleek upon his income, and he liketh well to see men bow down to him.