Be in your prayer space, follow the usual steps and settle into silence.

Take a couple of gentle, slow and deep breaths…becoming aware of your breath going in and out… stay focused on this breath of life……

Breathe in all that is of God and from God…all that is true, honest, pure, admirable, noble, decent, virtuous, worthy of praise, good, loving, kind – all that deserves respect..

Settle into silence, into peacefulness, into profound silence, into pure joy. Keep listening in quietness, stillness and serenity. Come to that place, that space within, that place of deep silence – Solitude…to just being here and now, without having to accomplish something.

Now I invite you to consecrate your time and all that come with this moment….in your own way, in humble, simple, may be even inadequate words………..

Every day that we wake up is a good day. Every breath that we take is filled with hope for a better day. Every word that we speak is a chance to change what is bad into something good….every moment of the day brings new opportunities and possibilities.

May this moment and all other coming moments open new doors for you and may God bless you with wisdom and courage to walk in faith, as you continue your journey of life!

Today’s meditation is on Jesus Christ the shepherd-king who governs his people as a shepherd governs sheep with constant vigilance, with tender care and with steadfast, self-sacrificing love.

Ezekiel was a prophet in Exile. He was very critical of the performance of the leaders, who were supposed to be the shepherds of the people. The good shepherd had the well-being of his sheep in his heart. The leaders of Ezekiel’s time were not concerned about the well-being of their people. They were concerned about themselves and used their power for personal gain. Ezekiel saw the exile itself as a result of the exploitation of the innocent people by their leaders. People have suffered and were scattered and exiled from their home land and were forced to wander aimlessly like “sheep without shepherd” in Babylon.

Ezekiel promised a new beginning. God will replace the unfaithful and irresponsible shepherds and God himself will lead his people. God would gather his exiled and scattered people and tenderly care for them, lead them home and reestablish them as his own people again. (Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17)

David had been a shepherd and he knew how to care for the sheep and what it cost him. He became shepherd of his people. He had to figure out how he should care for them. He knew the sheep well and now he must come to know his people, their ways, their needs and their concerns. This problem gave him a new awareness of what God, the true shepherd, is like in his relationship to his people.

God knows his people just as they are in all their need, in their stubbornness and stupidity as well as in their value and worth. Like a good shepherd…God reaches out, searches out the lost and keeps them safe. Like a shepherd…..God provides food, drink, safety, light in darkness, Grace, comfort and strength in “dark valley moments”. Psalm 23 proclaims the enduring, steadfast, loyal, unconquerable love of God, the good shepherd, who will never let us slip out of his hands!

After the Resurrection of Jesus, Peter recalled one of the oldest images of God as “shepherd” of the souls of men (1 Peter 2:20-25). At the time of Jesus, the sheep had to graze in the narrow central plateau without protecting walls, where grass was sparse. The shepherd had to be ceaselessly and sleeplessly on the watch to protect the sheep from harm. This image of the shepherd reveals the unfailing vigilance and self-sacrificing love of God for us.

In his love, he cares for us; in his power he protects us; in his wisdom he guides us in the right way.

Jesus gave us the beautiful and inspiring image of the shepherd, who has an intimate and very personal knowledge of the sheep, calling the sheep by name and the sheep recognizing his voice, leading the sheep and keeping them safe (John 10:1-10). This image of the shepherd reveals the unfailing vigilance and self-sacrificing love of God for us in Jesus. Jesus is presented as this shepherd, a caring, listening, sensitive and self-sacrificing leader.

The listeners of Jesus did not understanding this parable. So he told them another parable that spoke of the shepherd as the door or gate of the sheepfold. The hillside sheepfolds in Palestine were open spaces enclosed by a wall with only an opening and no door. The Shepherd would lie down across the opening and no sheep could get in or out except over his body – the shepherd became the door. This is the image that Jesus used when he said, “I am the gate”. It is through Jesus that we find access to God. In and through Jesus we have a new sense of security and safety. In and through Jesus we have life in abundance. He says, he came so that we may “have life and have it more abundantly”.

Jesus spoke of himself as the good and caring shepherd who knows us, loves us, leads us and lays down his life for us (John 10:11-18). The image of the shepherd appealed to the listeners of Jesus and to the early Christians. Sheep and Shepherd shared intimate and lifelong relationship.

This was a good and readily understood image which described the bond between Jesus and his followers. The good shepherd knows and is known by the sheep……….the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep………..because the good shepherd loves, cherishes and values the sheep. Those who hear the voice of the good shepherd and follow his voice will be secure, safe…will “never be snatched away”.

The image of the shepherd is very challenging and demanding to the contemporary ministers since it reflects a very caring, provident, protective, selfless, self-sacrificing and enduring relationship. The good shepherd knows and is known by the sheep….the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep because the good shepherd loves, cherishes and values the sheep.

Our good shepherd, Jesus, in laying down his life for us, secured our safety and our salvation. Be grateful! You have a good shepherd in Jesus!

Look to this good shepherd for direction and follow his direction!

I am the good shepherd…… (who) lays down his life for the sheep. What an amazing relationship between human beings and their maker!!!

How awesome it is that we have become cherished and prized objects of divine diligence and sacrifice!!!

God, in Christ, is deeply concerned about me, as an individual person and not just one in a crowd – this should give me a sense of dignity and worth, pride and devotion, gratitude and praise, meaning and purpose…..

The Psalmist proclaimed, “The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23). Now we can proclaim it even more boldly because the Lord has said, “I am the good shepherd” who is ready to lay down his life for us. The good shepherd spares no pains for the welfare of the sheep. We can look to our good shepherd with absolute confidence and devotion.

Pray with Confidence:

The Lord is my shepherd!

I shall not want….

I shall not fear………

Only goodness and kindness will come to me…………….

Look to Jesus as your good shepherd, leader and friend! And like the good shepherd, be a caring, sensitive and self-sacrificing leader! Learn to make these qualities yours in your ministry as a parent or educator or pastor or political or social leader whatever your life call may be.

Jesus is our shepherd-King. Today is the feast of Christ the King – we proclaim Christ as our king and celebrate his kingship over us, rejoice in our royal and noble character and pledge our loyalty to Christ our king and master and Lord. Noble people must live noble lives. Kingdom people must live kingdom values. The values of kingdom are lived out in response to the simple, daily need of ordinary people.

Fr. Gus Tharappel, msfs

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