Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord is our shepherd, and we are His sheep. That is how close we are to Him, and how dear and precious we are to Him. For a good shepherd, his sheep would be everything in life, and a good shepherd gives his all for the sake of his sheep. He feeds them, cares for them, protects them from harm, and finds them if they lost their way in the wilderness.
That is precisely what our Lord did, and what He will do for our sake. The Lord is our shepherd, who cares for us, and provides for all our needs. We have been lost in the darkness, and have been destined to death. Yet, He did not give up on us, and went all the way out to seek us and find us in the darkness and bring us back into the light.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He did not fear oppositions and rejections, and He went straight out, seeking those who were considered by many to be lost. He sought tax collectors, prostitutes, and the least and rejected of the society. He sought them and lifted them up from the darkness that once engulfed them, bringing them back into the light. Precisely just like a shepherd tending to his lost sheep and the injured ones, bringing them back to their old selves.
And He as the shepherd rejoices when the lost sheep comes back to the fold. And these who have been saved, will enjoy the fullness of the graces of God, with all the joy and promises He had made to us since the beginning of time. And He did not just make those promises, as He in fact, fulfilled every single one of them without fail.
Such is the love that our Lord has for us, that He did not hesitate to even lay down His life for our sake, that we who were lost, may once again be reunited with Him, and receive from Him the eternal joy and the rewards of heavenly glory. Remember the Psalm, “The Lord is my Shepherd?” Yes, in that psalm, we hear how the Lord will lead us to life-giving water, to quench our thirst for the love of God, and we will never hunger again, for our Lord will provide for us, for eternity.
We do not need to worry, if we put our trust and faith in God, because He will take care of us. Sadly, the reality is far from that. We worry, brothers and sisters, worry too much! We are too preoccupied with our worries to even be able to recognise and notice God’s love and care for us. We are so preoccupied and worried about so many things in our lives, that we end up living in constant fear and constant desire.
We always seek more and more things, because desire and greed grows within us. And this world too, increasingly offering us more and more exciting things that often distract us away from our attention to the Lord. We ignore the shepherd who calls out to us, the lost sheep, because we the sheep are too distracted with the things around us.
Let me illustrate it to you with a story. There was a hundred sheep living in peace, in a beautiful and lush meadow, with plenty of food and water for them. They lived in peace with a wonderful shepherd, who loved them as if they were his own family. The shepherd led them every day to the feeding ground, and to the spring of clear water for them to drink. All were good.
The sheep knew their shepherd and the shepherd knew all of them, each one of them, even if there were a hundred of them in all. All would have been good and continue to be good. And yet, one day, one of the sheep saw a beautiful butterfly flying at a far away forest at the edge of the meadow. The sheep was lured by the beautiful butterfly, and it chased the butterfly deep into the forest.
The sheep followed the butterfly until it lost sight of it. The sheep suddenly realised that it is in the middle of the dark forest. And a pair of hungry looking eyes were staring at the sheep, eagerly awaiting its next meal. It was a hungry wolf. The sheep realised that the wolf would eat it, and gave in to its fate. Yet, when the wolf lunged forward to bite and kill the lost sheep, something went in between them.
Lo, there was the shepherd, bleeding after being bitten by the wolf, standing in between it and the frightened sheep. The shepherd hit the wolf with his crook, and killed the wolf. The shepherd then turned to the lost sheep, picked it up, and happily returned to the flock, celebrating that he had found the one lost sheep, and his flock is complete once again. The shepherd knew all along that one sheep was lost because he knew them all, and went to search for the lost one.
This in essence, is what the readings today are about, that is about the Lord our God, who went out all the way to look for us, His lost children. Yes, we have been lost, ever since sin and the temptations of this world, the allures of worldly pleasures and false happiness, turned us away from our devotion to God. It is just like the sheep lured by the beautiful butterfly, that it followed the butterfly deep into the forest.
The devil is the wolf, awaiting for us in darkness, awaiting for the time when we fall to the trap, and then he will strike. But do you think that our God will just let us fall prey to the devil like that? That shepherd was Jesus Christ, who came to protect us from the schemes and devices of the evil one. He stood before us and the evil one, taking into Himself, the punishment intended for us.
Every single wound that Christ inflicted upon Himself, are every single sins that we had committed. Every single mankind past, present, and future, everyone that has ever sinned. These wounds represent the sorrows of the Lord for our sinfulness, but at the same time, they are the living testimonies of the great and eternal love for us all.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we ready to truly proclaim the Lord as our God? He did not hesitate to take upon Himself the sins and sufferings of mankind. Then should we also hesitate to love and dedicate ourselves to the Lord? Let us take this opportunity to seek further to love the One who gave His life for us, and to reach out to Him, reaching out our hands to welcome the Shepherd who wants us, His lost sheep, to be reunited with Him.
May the Lord our loving God and Shepherd, continue to watch over us and protect us, that we will always be in His grace and love, receiving the daily blessings and care from His hands. God be with us all. Amen.