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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 3-6): Our Shepherd King


We know so much about Jesus. We know he is the Good Shepherd who calls each of his sheep by name. We know they listen to his voice and follow him. We know that when a sheep is lost, he finds his sheep. How good it is to be a sheep of the Good Shepherd! He gives all that he has to those sheep. We wonder who those sheep might be...

People love to hear Jesus talk about the Good Shepherd and the sheep. They love to hear him talk about the Kingdom of God. Always, always, they want to know more, and always, always, Jesus gives them more. And then, he must rest. In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear that Jesus needs some time by himself away from all the people. We wonder why.

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray.

Aha! Jesus needs time to pray, to be alone with God. He gives all that he has to so many people; now, for a moment, he needs to be quiet and still with God.

The disciples sail in the boat on the way back to the other side of the lake. In good weather, this would not be difficult, but the disciples have a problem:

When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea.

What is happening here? This is not something usual. Jesus does not usually walk on water. Usually, he sails a boat to cross the lake, just like everyone else. But he leaves his prayer time with God and walks across the water to them. When the disciples see this, we hear how they feel:

But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

How can we understand this? What is God trying to show the disciples?

Maybe, if we consider what we know about the Good Shepherd, we can start to understand. What do we remember about the Good Shepherd?

Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? (Luke 15:4)

He finds it. Nothing can keep the Good Shepherd away from his sheep.

When the waves batter the disciples' boat, God shows the disciples just who Jesus is. Jesus desires so much to be with his disciples when they are in trouble, the wind and the waves cannot keep him from them. The Good Shepherd finds his sheep.

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 

Look at that! Jesus calls to Peter, and Peter comes. We know that the sheep follow the Good Shepherd because they know his voice. Whose voice does Peter know?

But when Peter noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him

What can we learn from this? Does the Gospel tell us to climb out of boats because Jesus will walk over the water to us? No. This is a special moment for the disciples to show them who Jesus is. But we already know who Jesus is.

We know he is the Good Shepherd who loves his sheep so much.

We know he finds his sheep when they are lost and afraid.

We know he immediately reaches out his hand to catch them.

We can rest in that knowing, and when we pray, we can pray together with the disciples,

“Truly you are the Son of God!”

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