Guarded by the Shepherd

Today’s Responsorial Psalm is, “The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.” To more completely recognize the beauty, reassurance, and power of this promise, it may help to know a bit more about the work of a shepherd. 

The shepherd is responsible for the flock’s welfare and safety. Sheep aren’t as dumb as they are often typified; however, they can still get themselves into a lot of trouble. Well-meaning sheep, who merely want to graze upon the green pasture, can graze away from the flock into harm’s way.  Sheep can become lost, putting them in grave danger from predators or even stumble off a cliff while fixated on eating the grass before them. 

The shepherd’s ultimate concern is flock perseverance. The sheep’s natural predators, such as wolves, coyotes, foxes, and mountain lions, either seek the sheep out of hunger or stumble upon those that have lost their way.  St. Peter warns us that sheep are not the only ones with a natural predator in need of protection: “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). 

There was a time when I was ignorant to the “snares of the devil” (2 Timothy 2:26) to the point of even denying his existence, which is his greatest snare. The more unaware of danger we become, the more vulnerable we are. Like the sheep, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, gratefully pursued and guarded me. Protecting us from the predator means preserving us for Heaven. He values every single soul, and there is great rejoicing for each claimed for eternal glory.

Maybe a less known fact about shepherds, they are often trained to assist the sheep with health issues. Just like sheep, we are susceptible to diseases. Humans, being multifaceted beings face more than just physical ailments. We must contend with our emotional and spiritual well-being as well. Jesus, the Divine Physician, is more than adequately equipped to tend to those needs.   

In addition, like the shepherd, who “will make frequent checks on the ewes at all hours of the day and night, and may assist the ewe if birthing problems occur,” Jesus is ever-present with us, and we find additional guardians in his angels and in his saints. 

Shepherd herding was a very lowly position, required a strong sense of protection for their charges. The Biblical accounts of shepherds consistently portray them as dedicated, perhaps due to the well-being of the sheep being not only important to them but their families and communities as well. The more you know about the characteristics of a good shepherd, the more gratitude will fill your heart over the Good Shepherd—Jesus—the one who guards his beloved flock.

Contact the author

Allison Gingras works for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization as National WINE Steward of the Virtual Vineyard. She is a Social Media Consultant for the Diocese of Fall River and She is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who founded and developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV).   

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