Sheep are totally dependent on shepherds for protection, grazing, watering, shelter, and tending to injuries. They are considered dumb, prone to wandering and unable
to find their way back to a sheepfold even when it is within sight. The helplessness of the sheep requires a good shepherd who leads the flock to places of grazing and watering, and protects the sheep from animal and human marauders.
In the Gospel, Jesus’ heart is moved to pity for the people because they are like sheep without a shepherd. The people are hungry and seem to be walking aimlessly. But the comparison points to Nm 27:17 where Moses prays to the Lord to appoint a leader to take his place before he dies, lest the people “be like sheep without a shepherd.”
Jesus cares for his disciples with the solicitude of a true shepherd and he declares himself as the Good Shepherd (Jn 10). As the Good Shepherd—Jesus—according to Pope Francis, “is attentive to each one of us, he seeks and loves us, addressing to us his word, knowing the depths of our hearts, our desires and our hopes, as well as our failures and our disappointments.”
Gospel • Mk 6:34-44
When Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already very late. Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” He said to them in reply, “Give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out they said, “Five loaves and two fish.” So he gave orders to have them sit down in groups on the green grass. The people took their places in rows by hundreds and by fifties. Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied. And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments and what was left of the fish. Those who ate of the loaves were five thousand men.
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2021,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.