April 30, 2023
Isn’t that degrading? The great King David, warrior and king, had begun as a shepherd. Yet he compares himself to a sheep.
- Like sheep, we are in a very dangerous situation
- We can learn 3 critical virtus from them:
- Humility to recognize our need for help.
- Trust in our Shepherd, good and strong.
- Obedience to listen to and follow Him into life in abundance.
This is a computer-generated transcription that has been included to make the homily searchable. It has not been verified by the author.
The Lord is my shepherd. That’s a very common phrase we hear a lot. It’s probably the most popular Psalm. A lot of times we see it on with a pretty picture in the background, nice and warm and fuzzy. But the one who’s writing this Psalm, David, is very realistic. David had been a warrior and had faced a lot of dangerous situations. And we sense that in the psalm when he talks about his enemies, his foes, and saying, “Even though I walk in the dark valley, I fear no evil, for you’re out my side with your rod and your staff. That gives me courage.” And after being a warrior, he became the king. And as a king, sensing the weight of all the responsibility that was on him for his people. But before being a warrior, and before being a king, David was a shepherd. And as a shepherd, he knew the courage, and the hardships and the loneliness, and the dedication and the perseverance for that responsibility. And he also knew sheep, he spent a lot of time with sheep. So he did have some romantic, idealistic idea of sheep, knowing sheep very well. And so you know, today we often hear people say, don’t be a sheep. Or sometime people say, don’t be a sheeple. A sheep as a stupid, ignorant follower of somebody, a fearful follower. But when David says, The Lord is my shepherd, what does that make David? That makes the great warrior King David, a sheep. And again, he knew sheep. And when Jesus Himself speaks to us, He calls us a sheep in this passage we heard today. So, is that an insult? Is this an insult to us? What’s lower than a sheep? What’s less passive than a sheep? A young sheep, right, the lamb. And Jesus Himself, the God of the universe calls Himself a lamb, the lamb. So it’s kind of mysterious. Why the lamb? Why sheep? One thing about sheep is, they’re in a dangerous situation. And they need help. And compared to us, that is compared to us in our situation, with the spirits of evil. Compared to the spirits of darkness, we’re very weak and very ignorant. And we’re easily led astray. We can become a very enticing prey for them. Because we’re often unprotected and vulnerable, are often foolish and stupid. St. Peter says, “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for whom to devour.” Looking for whom to devour. So that’s a pretty strong statement, and not to devour our bodies as to devour our souls, to lead our souls to hell. In Scripture, we know also compares satan to a serpent, a hidden serpent, hidden and poisonous. Or a dragon, a powerful dragon, or ravenous wolves. Jesus in the past from the Gospel speaks of wolves. And He speaks of the thieves and robbers who come only to steal and to slaughter and destroy. So it’s a very dangerous situation the sheep are in. And it’s like our times. Our times are dangerous situations. We live in dangerous situations. Why does St. Peter say in the passage we heard today, He says, “save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” He doesn’t say adapt yourselves to this corrupt generation. He says, “save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Do you think that would apply today also? Is our generation corrupt enough or do we have to try harder? Save yourself from this corrupt generation. So the Lord is inviting us today to learn from sheep. So sheep don’t have a degree in theology, right? They haven’t studied very much. But the Lord the God who made sheep, is wanting us to learn from sheep, especially. I mean, there’s a lot of other animals, right. And we can learn stuff from other animals, but He wants us to learn, especially from sheep. So they’re kind of our teachers today, and in His gospel, sheep. So what can sheep teach us? So again, this I’m not going to talk about something complicated. Sheep are not complicated. So these are gonna be very, very simple, some simple, but lifesaving skills that we can learn from sheep, lifesaving skills, three lifesaving skills, that we can learn from sheep. And that you can put into practice right now during this Mass. And there, we often come back to these because I think these are the special focus of the LORD wants for this little Mission of Divine Mercy. So the first one is for a sheep, who thinks I can take care of myself, I want to be independent. It’s not going to last very long. So the first step is to have the humility to recognize that I need help. I need guidance, I need protection. And so that’s the first bit, so important skill, virtue to learn from sheep. The virtue of humility, of recognizing the truth of my situation, my need. Let’s see, there was something I was gonna say about that. Let me just pause I’ll ,see, I’ll see if it comes back to me. So the first step is humility. Oh, yeah. So the issue. Sometimes they don’t write things down. I’ll remember that well. Because our pride makes us very big, juicy targets for satan. And so humility gives us a great deal of protection. It makes us a much smaller target for him. So humility is a great part of that protection. And so the humility to recognize that I need help, leads me to the second step. So who can help me? Who can I trust to get that help? Because we can’t trust, so that the second part is trust, or faith. Now, the trust which Jesus speaks of so much in His messages to St. Faustina, but I can’t trust just anybody. In the Gospel, Jesus talks about the mercenary who doesn’t really care about the sheep. And then again, He talks about the thief who comes to steal, and slaughter. So who can I trust, that’s important. And that’s why Jesus talks about this extraordinary, Good Shepherd. Jesus says, “There’s no greater love than to give up his life for one’s friend”. But how about to give up your life for a sheep. And that’s what’s so crazy about the Good Shepherd is He’s willing to give up His life for His sheep. And not only is He willing to give up His life for His sheep, but He has the wisdom and the power to protect His sheep. He says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.” The sheep that is with the Good Shepherd, no one can snatch them out of the hand of the good shepherd. And so that’s the second step to freely choose to trust Jesus, the Good Shepherd, not just to trust anybody, to trust Jesus, the good shepherd. And so what’s the third? It’s very simple. If I say I trust the Good Shepherd, but I don’t follow Him, what good does it do? So trust naturally leads to the third, which is to follow Him, or to obey Him. If I trust Him, if I truly trust Him, I will follow and obey. But that’s not a word we’d like to hear very much. We don’t want to be followers. We want to be leaders. We want to be independent. The last thing we want to do is obey, right. And so what usually happens when we do that is we end up following satan. In this dangerous situation, and we’re in a very dangerous, dangerous situation for our souls. The only one who can save us is Jesus Christ. There is no other wisdom, there’s no other leader, there’s no other power that can save us. Our own forces can’t save us. No other force can save us except Jesus Christ. There’s two options. Either we follow Jesus, or we won’t be saved from the enemy. And so it’s very important to realize our situation, clearly this corrupt generation that we’re living with satan is so powerful. The only path to salvation is Jesus. St. Peter says, “You have gone astray like sheep. But you have now returned to the Shepherd and guardian of your souls.” So Jesus says, “The Good Shepherd walks ahead, and the sheep follow Him, because they recognize His voice.” And so Jesus’ path is not easy. It’s a hard path. But it’s the path that leads to eternal life. And it’s the path that we know is hard as it is, we know that if we follow Him, He will help us make it, He won’t just leave sheep behind because they’re struggling. If we follow Him, He will always help us come to abundant life, He will never abandon the sheep that are trying to follow Him. So that’s the third part. The third skill, to learn from sheep, to be humble, to trust, and to obey. Simple things today, and things that we can put into practice right now, even during this Mass. So today is also on this feast of the Good Shepherd, it’s the world day of prayer for vocations. And so Jesus calls us not just to follow Him. But He also calls us, if we follow Him, He calls us also each one of us to a special mission. So that from sheep, we also become shepherds, or maybe sheepdogs. And so this is a day, this day, as we try to follow the Good Shepherd is also a day to want to discover our own vocation. Because if we follow Him, it’s also following the path of our own vocation that He’s called each one of us to, and service to the Church and service to saving souls. The Lord is my shepherd. So with King David, with our Blessed Mother, especially who’s the greatest example of this humility, and trust and obedience, this Mass is an opportunity to listen to the Good Shepherd, and to decide to follow Him. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. And no one shall snatch them out of My hand.” Amen.
KEYWORDS / PHRASES:
Humility, Trust, Obey