Scripture: Feb. 5, Lectionary # 328: Hebrews 13:15-17.20-21. Psalm 23. Mark
Not only do the Gospels present Jesus as the Good Shepherd so,too, does the
Epistle to the Hebrews. It is one of the earliest images of Jesus that
will appear on the walls of the catacombs in Rome. Today’s selection
describes Jesus as a great Shepherd who protects his sheep even to the
shedding of his blood in the eternal covenant. Psalm twenty-three spells
out very clearly and beautifully what a good shepherd does for his sheep.
He will always be there for them; he is ever faithful to his responsibility
to protect them; they, in turn, listen only to his voice.
Even in the description of Mark today we have an inkling that Jesus sees
himself as the shepherd of his people. Mark describes the inner feelings of
Jesus about the sad plight of the crowds of people who follow him. They
were “like sheep without a shepherd.” He would be and is their shepherd and
ours. He himself will even taken on the quality of a sheep being led to
slaughter as we learn from John’s Gospel. At the very hour that the lambs
were being led in their silence to slaughter for the Passover sacrifice he
was to lay down his life for his sheep.
In our liturgy we retain this image of Jesus just before Communion:
“Behold! the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” A metaphor
is now a theological insight into who Jesus is for us. Jesus is also the
victorious lamb of God who conquers death, sin, and the devil. Even the
difficult passage of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son Isaac,
who becomes a type for the sacrifice of Jesus the Son of God. Both
mysteries baffle us and cause us to wonder, to doubt, and yet to believe.
“Lord Jesus, son of Abraham, son of David, Son of God, have mercy on us.”