Have you ever wondered what it’s like for a shepherd to care for his sheep? We conjure up images of peace and quiet, of green pastures and rolling hillsides. But it’s not always so pleasant. If the shepherd doesn’t keep his flock together and moving in the right direction, he risks losing them. It is also common knowledge that sheep are not very bright. Without proper guidance, an unwitting sheep will graze on food that looks enticing but that is dangerous for it. Should it get lost in the wilderness, it will eat whatever it finds, including weeds and unhealthy forage.
What does this have to do with us? Well, if Jesus is the good shepherd, one of his priorities is to make sure we are eating food that will nourish us. Of course, we are not dumb animals like sheep. But it is still true that without Jesus’ guidance, we risk feeding ourselves in fields of doubt, self-centeredness, pride, or fear.
Jesus wants us to follow him because 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.
Mark tells us that the people who ate the bread Jesus gave them were filled and “satisfied” (Mark 6:42). And that is 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 guide.
Keep these thoughts in mind the next time you go to Mass. As you sing praises to the Lord, listen to his word, and receive him in Communion, tell him that you want him to fill you. Thank him for shepherding you—and tell him that you want to stay close to him, safe in his flock.