Dear Brothers and Sisters,
continuing our catechesis on Christian prayer, we now turn to Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”. With its exquisite pastoral imagery this much-beloved Psalm speaks of the radical trust in God’s loving care which is an essential aspect of prayer.
The Psalmist begins by presenting God as a good shepherd who guides him to green pastures, standing at his side and protecting him from every danger. “He leads me beside still waters; he refreshes my soul” (vv. 2-3). The scene then passes to the shepherd’s tent, where the Lord welcomes him as a guest, gracing him with the gifts of food, oil and wine. “You prepare a table before me … you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (v. 5).
God’s protection continues to accompany the Psalmist with goodness and mercy along his way, a way which leads to length of days in the Lord’s Temple (v. 6). The powerful image of God as the Shepherd of Israel accompanied the whole religious history of the Chosen People, from the Exodus to the return to the Promised Land.
It finds its ultimate expression and fulfilment in the coming of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who gave his life for his sheep, preparing for us the table of his Body and Blood as a foretaste of the definitive messianic banquet which awaits us in heaven.