Last Saturday I celebrated Mass in a parish whose pastor was retiring and a new one was coming in to take over. It was the Feast of Corpus Christi, a vivid reminder of the presence of Jesus Christ among us. He is our shepherd and we are his flock.
We’re very conscious today of human leaders, whether they are politicians, business leaders, bishops or pastors. We want them to keep things going, to solve problems and to lead us into the future. When things go wrong, they’re the first we blame. Often they are all we see.
But there is another who leads us. “We are his people, the flock of the Lord.” St. Augustine comments on this verse from the psalms:
” In this song we have declared that we are his flock, the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hands… You are my sheep, he says. Even in the midst of this life of tears and tribulations, what happiness, what great joy it is to realise that we are God’s flock! To him were spoken the words: You are the shepherd of Israel. Of him it was said: The guardian of Israel will not slumber, nor will he sleep. He keeps watch over us when we are awake; he keeps watch over us when we sleep.
A flock belonging to a man feels secure in the care of its human shepherd; how much safer should we feel when our shepherd is God. Not only does he lead us to pasture, but he even created us.”The words we have sung contain our declaration that we are God’s flock: For he is the Lord our God who made us. He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hands.
Human shepherds did not make the sheep they own; they did not create the sheep they pasture. Our Lord God, however, because he is God and Creator, made for himself the sheep which he has and pastures. No one else created the sheep he pastures, nor does anyone else pasture the sheep he created.
“The Lord is my shepherd,” we say. And he shepherds the world as well.