April 4, 2022 –
Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent
“Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.”
The 23rd Psalm is undoubtedly the most famous of the 150 works found in the Psalter. But those who comment upon this psalm don’t always give it its due. Instead, reflections upon the 23rd Psalm often focus upon the first verse, and the beneficence of the Good Shepherd.
As this psalm is proclaimed during the first week of Passiontide, however, the refrain of today’s Responsorial gives us a different focus. The refrain concentrates our focus upon the middle two of the four stanzas of the psalm (as it’s broken down for proclamation in the Roman Missal). These verses foreshadow Christ’s Passion, and the care that the Good Shepherd affords to one in danger.
In turn, these verses of the 23rd Psalm also help us appreciate better the danger faced by Susanna in today’s First Reading, and the care shown by Daniel, who shepherds her to legal and moral safety (in fact, to help her avoid death). In this, the First Reading’s narrative helps us appreciate that each of us is called to be not only a sheep who calls upon the Good Shepherd, but also a good shepherd to those whose safety needs our protection.