On reading this story we might say: But we know who the shepherd is: Jesus. Knowing that Jesus is the shepherd does not mean that you know the shepherd… that you know Jesus. When you buy a cake packed in a colourful box, you can see the picture of the cake on the box; you can see the list of the ingredients and you can imagine that the cake is delicious. You will only know how much delicious it is when you taste the cake; when you experience it.
It is the same with Jesus. You can get to know who Jesus is from various sources: the Bible, homilies and so on. At this stage you only know who he is like you will know who the Pope is by reading about him, seeing his picture and so on. But still you do not know him, and still you do not know Jesus.
We need to know the shepherd because otherwise we will not really be part of his flock. To belong to his flock is to be able to recognize his voice. Each shepherd used to have a distinctive call and once he uses it, his sheep would gather around him, not because they are afraid of him but because they trust him and they have experienced how much good a shepherd he is.
We Christians need to experience the love that the Good Shepherd has for each one of us. We need to know him so well that we unconditionally trust his message as well as his promise of eternal life. We need to go beyond what we heard about Jesus and what we learned about him and begin to discover Jesus at the centre of our lives in a profoundly instinctive and trusting manner.
We have to trust Jesus completely! We do so because we have already experienced his concern and dedication to each one of us that is we have already experienced his love and care for us. Once we start trusting him we will start following the way of Jesus. This means that we use our freedom and strength to be like Jesus: a loving and caring presence in our world.
If you were given the option, what would you choose: knowing Psalm 23 or knowing the shepherd?