His heart was moved with pity for them for they were like sheep without a shepherd.Mark 6:34
Today’s readings flow from this line of Mark’s gospel. A little background will prove helpful towards understand today’s first reading.The people that Moses led through the wilderness were brought into the promised-land by Joshua. Theycrowned their first king (Saul) and were subsequently ruled by David and Solomon. Later, the kingdom broke into 2 parts: Judah (the southern kingdom) and Israel (the northern kingdom). Then things got worse. The people were repeatedly conquered and sent into exile.The prophet Jeremiah gives voice to God’s displeasure with shepherds who “have scattered my sheep and driven them away.” He prophesies of a “righteous branch...(who) shall reign and govern wisely.”Today’s psalm is the familiar psalm 23. Many people can recite bits of this psalm, including its iconic first line: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” The psalmist goes on to speak of God as shepherd for the flock and generous and caring host.I’ve decided to use two settings of psalm 23 during today’s liturgy. The first will be our prelude. Many of you will recognize Josh Blakesley’s setting titled; “The Lord is My Shepherd.” Its’rhythmic refrain is easy to sing. I believe it will be a good way of turning our focus toward the scripture we will hear proclaimed and Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.The second setting is found in the hymnal between the first and second reading. This refrain to this setting is more lyrical. The verses will be chanted by the psalmist.