Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."
Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. Matthew 9:35 - 10:4
I have had the privilege to visit my friend Cornelia's sheep camp several times. They know her and the man who is their full-time shepherd and caregiver. When she goes into the pen they come around but when a stranger like me comes around they move away and make noise. They don't know what I'm up to and they're not sure they want to know. They huddle together, making noises of fear and warning seep in their beings. When she or the shepherd comes the gather around, nuzzling against her and surrounding her with their soft warm bodies.
Jesus saw the people and was moved by their sense of displacement and loss. They had no one to trust and be close to, no one to feel safe around. They were lost and he could see that in them. The people drew near to him because they could sense safety, trust and a place to belong. We are invited, as the disciples were, to respond to the needs of the people, those who are lost and in need of a home. God draws near to us and gives us that sense of belonging. We are cared for by a tender shepherd.
Today I ask God to help me serve others in need of a shepherd. May we find our joy as we live in service to others. May our joy be found in their healing and transformation.