Reading: Psalm 23: 3-4
Verses 3 and 4: He guides me in paths of righteousness… I will fear no evil, for you are with me…
The Shepherd seeks to guide us. He seeks to guide us and to keep us from harm. Sometimes the Shepherd protects us from the dangers and the lures if this world, sometimes He protects us from ourselves. It is a full-time job.
In ancient Israel, the shepherd was very essential to the lives of the sheep. The shepherd would lead and guide the sheep to find food and water. The shepherd would lead the sheep to the next green pasture when they had grazed the one they were in. A good shepherd would be wise with the resources of the land. In this way, the shepherd managed the land as well. Finding good grass and not overgrazing a pasture required frequent moving of the flock. Sometimes the journey was long and dangerous, so the shepherd had to be diligent. For the sheep, they simply followed and ate grass in the pasture they were led to. The pastures were not fenced. The sheep would eat and walk, eat and walk, … If the shepherd did not pay close attention to all of the sheep, one could easily wander off and become lost.
In our faith journey, Jesus also leads us along. Often times He leads us to green pastures where our souls are fed. At other times He guides us through the narrow and trying times of life, helping us to see the path to walk and strengthening us as we make our way. In extreme cases, He will even pick us up and carry us. Some of the time we wander a bit and in these cases, He gathers us back and continues to “guide me in paths of righteousness” so that we safely navigate life. The Good Shepherd reminds us of our call to be holy as He is holy. In doing so, He leads by example.
During life, at times the troubles and temptations of the world creep in. The Good Shepherd uses His rod to fend off the attacks of Satan and uses His staff to pull us back into His presence. In the storms, Jesus brings us His peace and comfort. In those times, we can speak as the psalmist wrote: “I will fear no evil, for you are with me”. In all things and in all ways, Jesus Christ seeks to be our Good Shepherd. For His incredible love and care, we say thanks be to God!