Our Responsorial Psalm today from Psalm 23 is very personal. There are no references to «we» or «us» or «they,» but only «my» and «me» and «I» and «You.» This is David’s testimony, his personal experience with God.
“In verdant pastures he gives me repose.”
We can stay in solitude and prayer when we feel that deep urge to be distracted by people and events.
The Lord is my pace-setter, I shall not rush. He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals.(1)
“He guides me in right paths.” Similarly, in our Gospel we hear that the shepherd opens the gate for the sheep. ‘Being guided’ and ‘gate’ are metaphors for leader, guide. “He guides me in right paths” which tells us that God’s guidance is also moral.
The Pope as Christ’s Vicar on earth, when it comes to official teachings, and the Catechism, which has on its cover the catacomb image of the Good Shepherd, is the sure path to follow.
Jesus says that his sheep recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him.”
e.g. Siri or Alexa voice recognition or smart speaker.
Sheep can recognize as many as 50 other sheep for up to two years and they can recognize their shepherd’s face and voice. Shepherds often lead sheep down paths which have no doubt been established by previous generations of sheep and shepherds. Even though we live with family members, and may have established ways of expressing anger or frustration for generations, so we have to follow the model of the Good Shepherd and speak words that edify and uplift.
This is NOT the voice of the Shepherd, «I told you so;» «You’re just like your mother!» «Can’t you do anything right?» ;“Don’t you ever think?”; “What is wrong with you?”
Shepherd’s voice- “Good job!” “If I had to do it all again, I’d still marry you.”
«You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes.”
When God says he’s catering, the dinner won’t be just any ordinary meal. And there is only one guest at this meal – you, while those in opposition to God’s ways are on the outer fringe of the scene and watch everything unfold as Peter, in our First Reading says, “Save yourself from this corrupt generation”.
It’s benevolent in its thrust, ending with an appeal for repentance and conversion.
Lastly, our First Reading was from Acts 2. One Pastor said, “In Acts 2 they prayed for ten days, Peter preached for ten minutes and three thousand got saved. Today, we pray for ten minutes, preach for ten days, and three get saved.”
The people were cut to the heart. They realized that Jesus wanted to save us from sin at the cost of his life!! “What are we to do?” Repent and be baptized. Renew your baptismal promises.
Psalm 23 in our Responsorial Psalm today ends with, “and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.”
1. Psalm 23 by Japanese poet, Toki Miyashina.