When Jesus disembarked and saw a 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.
While I was studying in Rome, I would often travel with a priest who was in charge of working with college students. I was amazed at his zeal, energy, enthusiasm, and work ethic. He was what many would consider a “work-alcoholic”, giving countless talks and hearing countless number of confessions. He was and still is a holy man and continues to work non-stop in building a culture of love and life among young people.
On one occasion, a group of kids asked me to give them a talk. I was surprised. I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t know what to say. I asked the priest if he would give it for me and he gladly said yes. Afterwards, while we were driving back home, he said to me, “You know…you should never decline an invitation to speak to people.” “Well”, I said in reply, “they never told me ahead of time. And I didn’t feel prepared.” He was not in the least impressed with my response. “You have been in the seminary now for five years. You have read the bible over and over again, heard countless sermons, talks and have read a ton of spiritual books. Do you really want me to believe that?” And then he let me have it. “I have never said no to someone who asked me to speak to their group. Never! You should make that a rule in your life.”
I did. And only later, did I realize that this priest was following the example of the Lord. There is always something that can be said. There is always something that can be done. There is always someone who needs some direction and protection. “The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.”
Direction. There are many who point the way, but there is only one who is The Way. He is the Star, the Sun, the Road, and the Path. He is my All. The Lord is my Shepherd. He doesn’t just point me in the right direction, he leads me. He goes before me. He removes all the obstacles in front of me. The Lord, and only the Lord, is worthy of all my love and all my trust. I have given this Shepherd full authority over my life. I have said the most powerful prayer you could possibly ever say: “Do whatever you want with me, Lord.” I have given to him all that I could possibly give. And I still have more to give to him! Many call, but there is only one who deserves an answer.
Protection. The Lord provides and protects me in so many ways: physically, with his body and blood; spiritually, with his word; psychologically, with purpose and meaning; intellectually with his way of life; emotionally with his passion and resurrection. There is only one Good Shepherd, ready to lay down his life for his sheep. I have grown to love the only one who has laid down his life for me!
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them and they follow me.
Regarding life, I have noticed something very exciting among our rich youth: far too many of them are disillusioned with it. They find it boring, meaningless and pitiful. What they don't realize is that the Lord has opened a great door of opportunity for them, if only they would step through it! I know a young person who recently commented to me that "life sucks". I said in reply, "It does!" if you're not willing to take the giant leap necessary to do something for Him. Follow Him!
Have I made it a point to be a Shepherd of souls to others? Have I heard His voice when others call on me? Have I kept myself simple and humble, like a Shepherd who lives among his sheep? Do I know my sheep – those entrusted to my care? Have I loved them with an unconditional love? How will I know? The answer is simple: Only if they follow Him and not necessarily you!