5th January 2021

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1 Jn 4: 7-10;

Ps 72: 1-4, 7-8;

Mk 6: 34-44

After the solemnity of the Epiphany, the Church’s liturgy continues to reveal different facets of Jesus’ mission and divinity to us. In response to the failure of the shepherds of Israel, God had promised through Ezekiel that he himself would look after his sheep and appoint a shepherd to pasture them. Sheep without a shepherd cannot find their way. They cannot lead themselves. Such a situation makes them weak and defenceless against dangers and threats. Jesus’ teaching ministry is focused on addressing this need of the people, instructing them on the way that leads to life. His very presence is their security. The shepherd is also responsible for feeding his sheep and Jesus faithfully accomplishes this too.

Today’s Gospel portrays Jesus as the promised shepherd of God, carrying out his responsibility of guiding, protecting and feeding his flock. It also brings to mind the celebration of the Eucharist where we are instructed through the Word of God and fed with the Bread of Life. Over the last year, not all of us have been fortunate to participate in the Eucharist. Has the Good Shepherd forgotten to feed us? However, we must ask ourselves; do we really ‘hunger’ for him like those in the Gospel? In his presence, they forgot about their need for material food; in fact, they didn’t even bother about it. Anticipating where he would be, they had run ahead to meet him. All they wanted was to be with Jesus and to listen to him. They had chosen the one thing necessary (cf. Lk 10:42). And in response, Jesus provides all the rest (cf. Mt 6:33).

This time of the ‘divinely-imposed’ Eucharistic fast is the lonely place we have been drawn into, to check if we truly desire Christ or are following empty dreams. Even though he may seem absent, he will not allow us to perish. We already know this as during this time, we have not been deprived of the sustenance provided through the Word of God.

Responsorial Psalm: All nations on earth shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.

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