Jesus, Our Shepherd

Mark 6: 30-34
Heb 13:15-17,20-21 / Psa 23

When Jesus landed and saw the large crowd, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
(Mark 6:34)

Are you burdened with anxiety?
Afraid to face what lies ahead?
Bring your troubles to God’s Sanctuary,
To our Shepherd and Living Bread.

The apostles returned and reported to Jesus all that they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and have some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But people saw them leaving, and many could guess where they were going, and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw the large crowd, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He began teaching them many things. (Mark 6:30-34)

Reflection

The Responsorial Psalm in today’s lectionary aptly describes the compassion and love that God has for His people (as exemplified by our Lord Jesus in today’s Gospel. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters… Even though I walk through the valley of darkness, I fear no evil.” (Psa 23:1-2,4). These are some of the most comforting and reassuring words in the Bible written by King David which he wrote towards the end of his life.

These beautiful verses are usually heard during funeral masses, evoking as they do an image of the departed soul passing through the dark valley of death unafraid as the loved one is assured of his passage to heaven. But King David must have also written this psalm as a prophecy about Jesus, the Good Shepherd, Who would always be the guiding light, hope and protection for all the flocks of the Father, especially during these times of great anxiety and fear for what lies ahead. The turmoil now happening caused by terrorists in our region in Mindanao, and other countries in the Middle East have had grave repercussions in our daily living. Global warming is another serious concern, as we witness the freak forces of nature wreaking havoc with floods, snowstorms and super typhoons all over the world. The war against drug syndicates and other criminal syndicates goes on unabated, and our own impoverished country is not spared, as we also grapple with many forms of criminality, some with complicity of our own police and military authorities. Graft and corruption, growing poverty, degradation of moral values (prostitution, pornography, same sex marriage, teen pregnancies), on top of joblessness and other financial problems can be so depressing that it is no wonder we see the rates of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, mental cases and suicides ever on the rise. Without the presence of the Good Shepherd in our lives, how do we hope to cope with all of these problems? Here, Jesus simply tells us, “Come away by yourselves with Me to a deserted place and rest for awhile” (Mark 6:31). How sweet those words are to our troubled hearts, and how necessary it really is to take time out from the the hassle and bustle of daily living, so that we can commune with our loving Shepherd in His sanctuary.

St. Paul reminds us, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, persevere in prayer,” (Rom 12:12) three things that should drive away all our fears and anxieties. We should have nothing to worry about if only we look up to Jesus as our Shepherd. “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me … and I will lay down my life for the sheep” (Jn.10:14,15) If He could lay down His life for us when He was still living on earth, why wouldn’t He take care of our temporal needs now that He is in heaven? “Be still,” our Lord assures us, “I am always with you.”

Grant us the grace, to know the importance of taking time out an hour a day, a day in a week, or a week-end in a year to give to You, Lord Jesus, so that we may find rest for our souls. Prepare us for that moment when we have to walk through the valley of darkness whether here or in the afterlife. Amen.

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