Several years ago an author by the name of Dave Grossman wrote an article called "On Sheep, Wolves, And Sheepdogs." (See link at end of post) In the article Mr. Grossman stated that the majority of people can be divided into three categories--sheep, wolves and sheepdogs.
He says that the vast majority of people are sheep. They are the type of people who want to go through life believing that there aren't wolves out there. They prefer to go day by day naive to the dangers of the world thinking that no one would hurt them. They are unprepared for what can happen to them.
The wolves are those people who prey on the sheep. They sniff around until they find a weakness and attack the sheep unmercifully. There are plenty of wolves in the world looking for the week sheep to attack by robbing, raping, assaulting or burglarizing.
The sheep dogs are those people are always aware, always sniffing around, waiting for the wolves to attack. They are ready to attack the wolves back in order to protect the sheep.
In today's gospel reading (John 10, 11-18), Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." Jesus also looks after the sheep and is willing to throw down his life to protect the sheep.
The sheepdogs are willing to do the same but for different reasons. The police officer or the Marine is willing to die for his fellow man but why. If you would ask him why he would charge towards the sound of gun fire or put his life on the line for a stranger he would say it's out of a sense of duty, it's responsibility, or maybe, "I'm just doing my job."
Jesus though died for another reason. He died because He loves His flock. He loves each and everyone of us and wants us to protect us from the wolves so that we can spend eternity with Him.
A warning to all of the sheep AND sheepdogs out there. Jesus died to protect us from those wolves. Be careful not to think merely of the physical wolves. We have a tendency to forget the spiritual wolves---those demons who are after our souls. Even as sheepdogs we need to seek protection from the Good Shepherd. Do as he says, stay on the narrow path and allow Him to protect us from all type of vices, whether they be lust, gluttony, slot or whatever. The Good Shepherd will allow us to walk away from Him if that's what we choose. He will allow us to be attacked by those same wolves that we think we are protecting the sheep from and die. Seek His counsel through prayer, the scriptures and the sacraments so that we are always close by the Good Shepherd's side.