Psalm 23 begins with a soothing picture of comfort. The Lord, the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11), refreshes the psalmist, who refers contentedly to the Lord in the second Person, as "He" (Ps 23:1-3). Suddenly, the psalmist encounters difficulty and suffering in "the dark valley" (Ps 23:4). Notice that the psalmist now refers to the Good Shepherd in the first person, as "You" (Ps 23:4-5). We come to know the Lord personally when we suffer with Him.
As Jesus' hand-picked leader, Peter was seemingly in the ultimate position to know Jesus personally. Yet when it came time for suffering, Peter denied that He even knew Jesus (Mk 14:71). When we walk away from the dark valley out of fear, we may never come to know Jesus as He truly is, the Suffering Servant.
In Mark's Gospel, Jesus would not allow His identity as Messiah and Lord to be publicized in times of triumph (e.g. Mk 5:43; 7:36; 8:30). Only in His abject suffering did He clearly affirm Himself as Messiah (Mk 14:62). Likewise, Jesus will personally reveal Himself to us when we follow Him to the cross (Lk 9:23-24). If we won't follow Him into the dark valley of the cross, then we tell Jesus we really don't want to know Him as He truly is. Then Jesus will remain just a second-person "He" to us.
This is why Paul wants to know Christ and know how to share in Christ's sufferings so as to know Him (Phil 3:10; see also 1 Cor 2:2, RNAB). Take up your cross and come to know Jesus, the Good Shepherd, in a new, personal way.
|Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Nihil Obstat ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from June 1, 2006 through July 31, 2006.
†Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 12, 2005.