A story is told about a sacristan whose main work was to prepare the responsorial psalm for the Sunday’s liturgical celebration. Incidentally, the responsorial psalm for that Sunday was taken from Psalm 23—the Lord is my Shepherd. Since the sacristan was not well instructed on what to write on the whiteboard designated for the response (which was usually done to help the congregation actively participate in the Eucharistic celebration), he copied the first whole stanza of Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and greed are his pastures ….” And so on and so forth. When the parish priest noticed that the sacristan wrote on the whiteboard a quite long response, he instructed him to shorten the response by simply writing: “The Lord is My Shepherd. There is Nothing I Shall Want”, PERIOD! Well, the sacristan dutifully and literally followed the priest’s instruction and wrote on the board—THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD. THERE IS NOTHING I SHALL WANT, PERIOD! And when the Responsorial Psalm of the Liturgy of the Word itself was read during the Sunday Mass, the congregation simply responded literally following what was written on the whiteboard and in one lively voice shouted: “THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD, THERE IS NOTHING I SHALL WANT, PERIOD!–to the amusement of the mass presider.
Sa totoo lang, isa lang naman talaga ang kailangan natin sa mundo– The Lord is my Shepherd, period! No amount of money nor material possessions can ever satisfy man. To pursue happiness in worldly pleasures is fruitless and vain. St. Augustine realized this late in his life when he said: “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you!” The words of Augustine express a central insight into the nature of true happiness: only possession and being possessed by God can satisfy our deep longings!
In today’s gospel, Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd who knows everyone of us to the core of our being. Another gospel passage tells us He knows every feeling and intention, he knows our failures and weaknesses and he declares that he is ready to lay down his life for his sheep. He takes the flock in his hands and gathers them together and lead them to pasture land! What a beautiful picture. There is no distance between the shepherd and the sheep. There is intimacy between them.
Let us now focus on the sheep and what should be our response to the Good Shepherd?
- The Gospel reading tells us that the sheep hears the shepherd’s voice. To hear is not only physical but something that requires an open Heart and Mind. Unless hindrances like selfishness, sinfulness and pre-conceived ideas are removed, we can never listen to the Good Shepherd.
- The sheep knows the shepherd. Knowing about God and knowing God are two different things: knowing about God is but theoretical knowledge—lies at the intellectual level. Knowing God is much deeper. It is the knowledge that involves love relationships. It is being immersed in the love of God—NAKABABAD SA PAG-IBIG NG DIYOS!
- The sheep follows the shepherd. In reality, the shepherd comes to the flock every morning, calls the sheep by name and they follow him through the gate…him and nobody else. Applied to our life, si Krsito lang ba ang sinusunod natin sa ating buhay?
- The sheep receives eternal life (Jn 10:28). Nobody can snatch the sheep out of the hands of Christ. As Paul tells us – nothing can separate us from the love of the Lord.
We pray to our Good Shepherd that we may never wander from Him, the Good Shepherd, because of sin.