November 14, 2018
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul. Ps 23
St. Paul wrote to his brother Titus, beloved: Remind them to be under the control of magistrates and authorities, to be obedient, to be open to every good enterprise. They are to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone. Ti_3:1-7
And one of them (the ten lepers), realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Lk_17:11-19
Throughout the Scriptures we hear stories about people who were shepherds and analogies or parables about sheep and shepherds.
Adam and Eve’s son Abel, who was the first “keeper of flocks,” was killed by his brother Cain out of jealousy, because of his faithfulness. We might say that Abel was the first martyr for the faith; a shepherd!
Abraham, the Patriarch of Israel, was also a “keeper of flocks” and a faith-filled, obedient child of God.
Then there was Moses and later, David. David, who would become the King of all of Israel, also began his young life as a shepherd boy, battling wolves for the safety of his flock. It was this same David who, would in time, compose the famous 23rd Psalm that we heard today; “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
But what does – ‘Being a shepherd’ really mean, beloved? Well, a shepherd, in the Biblical sense, is not only: faithful and courageous, but he’s resourceful and unrelenting in protecting, feeding and caring for his sheep.
Jesus gives us many different attributes of what being a ‘Good Shepherd’ really means. A Good Shepherd trusts his flock enough, that when a straggler sheep gets lost, that shepherd is willing to leave all 99 of the rest in order to seek out the lost one. And the reason he does that, is because he loves every single one of them, just as God loves us.
St. Luke tells us how it was the shepherds who received that special message of Angels at the birth of Jesus. It may have been a dirty and a hazardous job, but being a Good Shepherd took a lot of patience, care and love.
Jesus often chastised the Pharisees for not being the Good Shepherds that God called them to be.
Jesus also used parables to describe Himself as “The Good Shepherd” who leads His sheep through the narrow gateway to safety.
And in His resurrection, Jesus commanded His Apostle Peter to feed and to tend His sheep.
Which is exactly where we find St. Paul in his Letter to Titus, instructing his good friend Titus of the importance of training the Bishops, the Priests and the Deacons of the infant Churches in Crete – in how to be Good Shepherds and Pastors of God’s flock.
In this Pastoral Letter Paul makes it clear how the leaders of our Church and the faithful, should behave. He made it clear that we should all give God the glory for having changed us, through our Baptisms, from lives of sinfulness into righteous persons.
Where that righteousness means controlling our “worldly” passions and pleasures for evil, and changing them into pure goodness for the sake of others. And where that righteousness means: recognizing every good gift God has given us, and then, responding with Thanksgiving . . .
– just like the leper in his encounter with Jesus,
– and especially like the leper who was not even a Jew, but a Gentile foreigner.
It all prompts us to ponder; How am I being a Good Shepherd to every person I meet, whether they are male or female, Christian or non-, American or Foreigner – in giving thanks to God for placing those people in my path?
And, How often do I, bow my head in humility, in thanksgiving, just like the healed leper, despite the struggles, for all the Goodness that God has showered into my life?
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