First Wednesday in Advent - December 5th
Today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 23 ("The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."), has a connection for me and my husband. This connection goes back to our elementary school days. I attended Good Shepherd School in Philadelphia. For my husband the connection goes back to third grade in a Philadelphia public school. His class was taught Psalm 23 and it was recited every day.
Shepherds play an important role in the Nativity story. During the time of Jesus' birth, shepherds were seen as having little value by other people. Shepherds were considered to be untrustworthy. But, God chose the shepherds to receive the angels' message that the Savior was born. In the parable of the Good Shepherd Jesus tells of the joy of finding the one lost sheep among the flock of a hundred.
With Jesus as our shepherd, we can trust that all our needs will be met. My mother would not allow me to say "I want…" I was taught to say, "I would like…" This advice has helped me to focus my prayers on what I need. I seek God's guidance to keep me on the right path. And, that is truly what a shepherd does.
Jesus calls us to be his shepherds. A shepherd focuses on his flock's needs. A bishop is charged with leading his diocesan flock. He carries a crosier as a reminder of his sacred duty. A husband and wife vow to love one another. Parents care for their children. Teachers educate. The medical community heals. Police officers and firefighters protect our neighborhoods. A friend meets you for coffee when you need to talk.
In December, many of us are busy deciding what our family and friends "want." Let's add to our lists the things that they need. The need may not be something that can be bought. When we take care of those needs, we’ll be on our way to becoming good shepherds.
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