In our minds eye we can imagine what it must be like for a shepherd to care for his sheep. We may conjure up images of peace and quiet, of green pastures and rolling hillsides. But being a shepherd is not always so pleasant. If the shepherd doesn’t keep his flock together and moving in the right direction, he risks losing them. It’s also common knowledge that sheep are not very bright. Without proper guidance, a sheep will graze on food that looks enticing but that is dangerous for it. Should it get lost, it will eat whatever it finds, including weeds and unhealthy forage.
So, what does this have to do with us? Well, if Our Lord is the good shepherd, one of his priorities is to make sure we are eating food that will nourish us. Now we are not dumb animals like sheep. But it’s still true that without Our Lord’s guidance, we risk feeding ourselves in fields of doubt, self-centeredness, pride, or fear.
Our Lord wants us to follow him because, like the good shepherd, he knows what is good for us. He wants to give us good things. He wants to feed us with the heavenly food of his Body and Blood in the Eucharist. He knows that if we eat his food, we will lose our desire for the food of the world—the philosophies of life that only spoil and weaken us.
In his Gospel, Saint Mark tells us that the people who ate the bread Jesus gave them were “filled and satisfied” (Mark 6:42). And that’s exactly what Jesus can do for us. We can experience his love deep in our hearts. His peace can fill our minds and calm our fears. We can experience joy in the knowledge that Christ is in us. We can find the answers to our most pressing challenges and problems—all because we have taken Jesus as our shepherd and our guide. These are thoughts we should keep in mind each time we take part in the Mass.