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“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” — Psalm 23:1 

Few of us have ever pastured, fleeced, or slaughtered a sheep. So we don’t have the experience to understand the image of the Good Shepherd. Nevertheless, many people are fascinated with this image. Perhaps they instinctively know the deep and compelling need of the human person to be shepherded

One of the main works of a shepherd is to guide the sheep. If we are on the road to eternal life, we are on a rough and narrow road (Mt 7:14). We are traveling through alien territory occupied by a “corrupt generation” (Acts 2:40), a veritable “culture of death.” As we walk through this “valley of the shadow of death” (Ps 23:4), we unjustly suffer insults and persecution (1 Pt 2:21, 23). We are in danger of being stolen, slaughtered, and destroyed (Jn. 10:10).

It is as if we are walking through a mined-field. Our next step can detonate an explosion in our families, marriages, work, health, etc. We can’t see the mines below the surface. We desperately need guidance. We need a shepherd, and a good one. Jesus says: “I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11). On this St. Augustine writes:

“He has accomplished what he taught us: He has shown us what He commanded us to do. He laid down his own life for his sheep, that within our mystery he might change his body and blood into food, and nourish the sheep he had redeemed with the food of his own flesh. He has shown us the way we must follow, despite fear of death. He has laid down the pattern to which we must conform ourselves. The first duty laid on us is to use our material goods in mercy for the needs of his sheep, and then, if necessary, give even our lives for them. He that will not give of his substance for his sheep, how shall he lay down his life for them?”

Do you look to Jesus the Good Shepherd, to receive the strength and courage you need to live and serve as his disciple? “Lord Jesus, you always lead me in the way of true peace and safety. May I never doubt your care nor stray from your ways. Keep me safe in the shelter of your presence.”

Fr Odinaka

 

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