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Hebrews 13:15-17, 20-21; Mark 6:30-34

My apologies if you visited this day before and found a differently reflection here,  I accidentally wrote it based on the readings for February 7, 2014. The new reflection is for the readings for this year.

The readings for today focus on two main images or themes, one with the sheep and the loving shepherd and the other about rest.   While the notion of sheep is not always embraced as a positive one, in these readings the key is the relationship between the sheep and the great shepherd.  The first reading encourages us to obey and defer to leaders.  This may be met with resistance by many, particularly those of my generation who were “programmed” to reject the Establishment.  But before we react I think it is important to understand this context – I do not believe it is about blind following of authority.  Rather, it is about following a right and justice leader – one who truly watches over us and has responsibility for our well-being.  This leader will be held accountable for leading us in the way of the righteous.  The reading also urges us to share our blessings, doing good and sacrificing at times.  The great shepherd is there to support us and provide us with “all that is good” that we become the face of Jesus to others.  There is the expectation that we are the hands and feet of the Lord, that our actions/our lives will glorify Him.

The responsorial psalm is a familiar one – perhaps the best known.  We have frequently heard this at wake services and seen it printed on funeral programs.  It not only presents the image of the loving shepherd protecting his sheep and providing what is needed, it also emphasizes the rest and peace that we receive through God.  The gospel also speaks of rest.  I recently heard someone speak about the holiness of rest.  As we think of the Creation story, God made holy that day of rest and that there is a true holiness about rest and renewal.  The psalm offers a couple of images of repose and of restful waters and the refreshment that such rest brings.  As we dwell in the house of the Lord, we are at rest – we let go and let God.  When we truly rest, we recognize that we are not in control; we give it to God and trust in what will come.  Resting is not a laziness, rather than a commitment to our Maker, an opportunity to connect and let go of the rush and stress that plagues our everyday lives. 

In the gospel, we see themes from the previous two readings – the disciples have been out and about doing good deeds as we are urged to do in the first reading and also the encouragement of rest (Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while) as the psalm also invites us.  The last line of the gospel reiterates the thought of us as sheep – except this time we are in need of that shepherd – a  shepherd to guide us to a holy life.  We are invited – but we must accept the invitation – to find rest and comfort with our Lord, our Good Shepherd.  May we always respond with open hearts and mind to the alleluia verse and find our place of rest and peace:

My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.


By Nancy Shirley

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