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Jesus, The Shepherd King
Memorial of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr
The Apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
Opening Prayer: Jesus, bless me as I hear your sacred word. Help me to listen to your voice and follow you always.
- Servant Leadership: Jesus called the Apostles to servant leadership in imitation of him. Jesus told his Apostles, “whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). Servant leaders put the needs of the people before their own needs. The Apostles, for example, were so busy serving the people that they did not even have a chance to eat! St. John Paul II taught what he called the law of the gift: “We become most truly human in the measure in which we go out of ourselves and give ourselves for the sake of others.” This means we find true meaning and joy in our lives precisely to the degree that we give our lives away to God and others.
- The Good Shepherd: When Jesus looked at the people, he saw their need. They were confused, disordered, and sinful, and there was no one to lead them out of this condition. They were sheep without a shepherd wandering aimlessly: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). They were also unprotected from predators; they were vulnerable to wolves, thieves, and bandits (John 10:7-12). Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He leads, guides, protects, feeds, and cares for us. If we allow him, Jesus protects us from modern predators who would distract us, steal our peace, or otherwise harm us.
- Israel’s True Shepherd: The people of Israel had been sheep without a shepherd for hundreds of years. In the years after King David, Israel had a line of corrupt, inadequate rulers. Consequently, they were conquered, exiled, and taken to Babylon. When they returned, they were ruled over by vassal kings who had their own interests in mind, not those of the people; King Herod was only the latest in a long line of “kings” who answered to Rome and controlled the Jewish people. Jesus, the true King of Israel, revealed himself to be a shepherd ruler, modeling his ancestor David. This scene precedes the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. As this Gospel passage continues, Jesus demonstrates how a good king cares for his people: he teaches them (v. 34), creates order (v. 39, and feeds them (vs. 41-42). Are we teachable? How can we allow Jesus to create order where there is disorder in our life? Do we allow Jesus to feed the hungry parts of our soul?
Conversing with Christ: My Jesus, thank you for being the true shepherd King. I want to sanctify you as Lord of my heart and enthrone you as King there (cf. 1 Peter 3:15). I am sorry for the times when I have not allowed you to guide and rule my heart and for when I have wandered away from your care. Thank you for coming to find me when I have strayed from the flock (cf. Luke 15:4). May I always listen to your voice and follow you, my Good Shepherd.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will read John 10: 1-18 and meditate on the image of you as my Good Shepherd.
For Further Reflection: Watch this video from Word on Fire: Bishop Barron on Evangelizing with the Heart of a Shepherd.
Carey Boyzuck is a wife, mother, freelance writer, and lay member of Regnum Christi. She blogs at www.word-life-light.com.