This homily is based on Mark 6:30-34.
In today’s Gospel reading, the sight of the crowd summoned the shepherd in the Lord. What did it, we are told, was that they were like a shepherd-less flock of sheep. Nothing, after all, moves the heart of the Lord as much as his desire to gather his scattered flock.
What could the Lord have seen when he laid his eyes on that crowd? He must have seen the men and women in all of humanity’s history, struggling to find joy, peace, and meaning in their lives–not always succeeding, and in the process, even harming one another and themselves in their often-joy-less, turbulent, and meaningless pursuits. It must have been the same sight that prompted the Blessed Trinity to send the Son to save the world–not by fixing it from a distance, but precisely by joining the fray: the mess and chaos–but also, the beauty–of being human.
Aside from the shepherd-less flock of humanity, the Lord may also have caught a glimpse of the scattered flock of sheep within every human person. Don’t we, after all, often feel that there is a scattered flock of sheep within us?
The Oratory of St. Francis Xavier has a beautiful stained glass window that expresses this reality: Christ the Good Shepherd bears a new-found lost sheep on his shoulders, but surrounding him are scattered, sheperd-less sheep, each one facing a different direction. The scattered, shepherd-less sheep represent our layers upon layers of often-conflicting and confusing desires.
This beautiful and profound art work reminds us that in reality, being shepherded is not as simple as we sometimes think. There are times when we feel both the desire to do the will of the Lord, and at the same time, a certain unwillingness or even refusal to follow the his voice. Some of our desires are authentic—they come from and lead us to the Lord. Others are inauthentic: They are mere products of the noise of the world, and if we follow them, they lead us only away from God.
In a sense, therefore, all of us here, each of us, has a flock of sheep within. Some of these sheep inside us belong to the Lord, but also found among them are those that do not belong to Him. Only the Shepherd’s voice can gather this inner scattered flock. Only by recognizing the Lord’s voice and following it can we discover our deepest, longest-lasting desire.
Today, let us pray that the Lord may gather the scattered sheep within us, so that each of us may become one flock that belongs entirely to him. Let us pray that more and more we may learn the art of discernment: so that we may grow to be increasingly familiar with the Shepherd’s voice, learning to distinguish his voice from the world’s noise. Let us beg for the gift of discernment—that we may recognize the Shepherd’s Voice and follow it—always.
The song “Gather Me” (music by Ginny Pantig, words by Johnny Go) is a prayer to the Good Shepherd. You may want to watch this music video.
PS: Can you make out the words woven into the Lord’s garment? It is a prayer from St. Ignatius of Loyola?
6 replies on “TO BE SHEPHERDED”
Yes!!!in my life experience I notice when I just want to do the things I want,the way I want, most of the times it doesn’t work as I wanted it.But when I discern it first within and do it for the good of others,and when done..there is a kind of joy and peace one feels.And most of the work I do,is not the work I want to do,but am happy to do…amen
Discernment. Hearing God’s voice from within us. How? When I keep still and listen to what my spirit tells me, am I not hearing what I am telling myself? How do I learn to discern God’s words?
the trappings of worldly success or the lack of it….these things vie for our attention…drowning out the Voice we strive to hear…I pray for the grace to be steadfast in seeking Your Voice, Lord, and once hearing it, to follow and listen…..
Despite the scattered sheep within me, I thank the Lord for continually loving me unconditionally. Indeed, there are times when the desire to do the will of the Lord is there, but at the same time there are moments when I get carried away by what I desire that I fail to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. There is that struggle within me to do what is right. It’s not easy. But I pray that I will learn to listen and follow the Shepherd’s voice always and choose to do what will lead me to the Lord.
Thank you Fr. J I will pray for discernment so I may hear the voice of the Lord so I will be guided by Him and not to be a sheep with no direction. God bless
Thank you Fr. Johnny, this comes very timely for me as I face some inner turmoils. Will dig deeper and hopefully, hear Our Lord’s voice calling within.
Prayers for your journey ahead.