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16th Sunday

If there is one psalm that never fails to move hearts, that must surely be Psalm 23, “the Lord is my Shepherd”.  I remember growing up and hearing weekly the song on this theme at Mass, with its beautiful melody and yet more uplifting message.  Christians of all traditions, Catholics and Protestants, are united in the spirit of this refreshing psalm.
This week, this is how God comes to us.  He comes as the Shepherd we all have need of.  In Jeremiah 23, God knew in his heart that the nation must be led to safe and green pastures.  In the Gospel, Mark 6, Jesus offers himself as the shepherd to a people in search of direction and meaning in their lives.  And Psalm 23 captures the benefits of walking alongside the shepherd.
Nations need shepherds and are often frustrated that the earthly shepherds they get almost always neglect them.  People need shepherds because we are helpless and blind without somebody to take us by the hand towards the light.  I too, must encounter a shepherd, if my life must take full significance and lead me to the renewal I need.
What happens when the sheep do not find a good shepherd?  Well, first they scatter, going on different directions, walking aimlessly (naka-kalat).  But dangers lurk behind every rock and the sheep are in constant peril of hurt and death.  Again, we can say, after they scatter, the sheep make a mess of themselves (nagka-kalat).  They do not behave or perform as they should.  They lose track of their purpose. They are wasted.
Let us look at our shepherds.  In our country, national and local leaders start off with good intentions and end up feeding themselves, as the case was in the first reading, of the shepherds neglecting the flock.  This happens when those in power lead people away from God through legislations that destroy morals, family values and protection of vulnerable lives.  Just think of the RH Bill, then Ban-God bill and now the Divorce Bill…again.
Small communities and families too, are crucially in need of good shepherds.  Why do marriages fall apart so easily, youth succumb to drugs and sinister gangs, Filipino values dissolve in the face of increasing secular challenges?  Isn’t it because we – as spouses, parents, siblings, friends, – fail to transform our love into life-sustaining guidance towards the weak and the young?
There is only one way to discover the truth and the light.  And that is to follow the true Shepherd.  God, in Jesus, offers himself as the shepherd who will watch over us, care for us and bring us at last to “green pastures and restful waters.”
The question is: do I rejoice that I have my Shepherd’s total attention and care?  Do I entrust myself to him – my plans, decisions, desires?  I pray that I will always allow my God to take me by the hand so that trustingly I can follow him towards that which brings not fear but comfort and peace.
Ang Panginoon ang aking pastol
Ang Panginoon ang aking pastol 
Pinagiginhawa akong lubos

Handog niyang himlaya’y sariwang pastulan

Ang pahingaan ko’y payapang batisan,

Hatid sa kalul’wa ay kaginhawahan,

Sa tumpak na landas, Siya ang patnubay.
(refrain )

Madilim na lambak man ang tatahakin ko,

Wala aking sindak, Siya’y kasama ko.

Ang hawak niyang tungkod ang siyang gabay ko.

Tangan niyang pamalo, sigla’t tanggulan ko. ( refrain )