January 5, 2021
When Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd.“ (Mark 6:34-44)
I was listening to a Q&A with Bishop Robert Barron yesterday, focused on the topic of evangelizing to the “unaffiliated” – those people who do not formally align themselves with any religion. Bishop Barron said that current data shows that over 50% of baptized Catholics under the age of 30 now consider themselves unaffiliated – that is a vast crowd.
This came to mind as I read today’s gospel. The unaffiliated are the vast crowd that are like sheep without a shepherd. A sheep left on its own faces two insurmountable challenges. First, it is directionless – it wanders. Second, it is defenseless – it is unable to ward off attack by predators.
A person that is unaffiliated, without the shepherding of a viable faith life, is vulnerable to being “consumed” by the world – will find himself in the belly of the predator if you will.
When you hear the word unaffiliated or the phrase lost sheep, it is likely that someone – or several people – come to mind. Your first thought may be, “I feel sorry for them and want to help, but I’m no shepherd!” Maybe you are, and maybe you’re not – that is not for me to say. However, I know what we CAN do. We can do what the disciples did in the gospel: We can feed the sheep.
We feed others when we share our stories of God’s presence in our lives. We feed others when we live lives that serve as witness to the strength of our faith – to the love we have for Jesus Christ. We feed others by planting seeds of hope, offering joy and gratitude in the face of daily challenges.
Remember what the Good Shepherd said to his disciples when they told him the “sheep” were hungry. “Give them some food yourselves.”