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 gathered around Jesus and reported to Him 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 get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them 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 Psalm in today’s lectionary aptly describes the kind of compassion and love that God has for His people (as exemplified by Jesus in today’s Gospel passage. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.” (Psa 23:1-3). 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.

We usually hear these beautiful verses of King David during funeral masses, evoking an image of the departed soul passing through the valley of death unafraid as the loved one is assured of his passage to heaven. But King David must have also been inspired by the Holy Spirit to write this psalm as a prophecy about Jesus, the Good Shepherd, guiding light and protection for His flocks, especially during these present times of uncertainty and great anxiety. The new US president’s ways of fighting terrorism many see as more harmful to world peace and true freedom. The phenomenon of global warming is a very serious concern, as we witness the freak forces of nature wreaking havoc with typhoons, floods, and droughts all over the world. The war on terrorism and drug syndicates in our own country has resulted in extra-judicial killings and other forms of criminalities, some with complicity of our own police authorities. Graft and corruption, growing poverty, and the degradation of our moral values can be so depressing it is no wonder the rates of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, mental cases and suicides are seemingly on the rise. Without the presence of the Good Shepherd in our lives, how do we hope to cope with all these problems? Here, Jesus simply tells us, “Come away by yourselves with Me to a deserted place and rest for a while” (Mark 6:31). How sweet those words are to our troubled hearts. How practical and necessary it really is to take time out from the problems of life, and the hustle and bustle of the marketplace, so that we can quietly 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?

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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