Flocks of sheep were a common sight around the ancient world, and Jesus used many shepherding images in his teaching. Sheep are more dependent on humans than most domestic animals, so their bonds to their shepherd are strong. The shepherd leads the flock to pasture and to water and protects them from predators.
St. Peter wrote that “you had gone astray like sheep.” Our sinful human nature had led us away from the Good Shepherd so we could wander in a spiritual wilderness and become prey for evil forces. But now we have returned to the “shepherd and guardian” of our souls. Jesus Christ is our shepherd who provides us with spiritual nourishment and guards us from the attacks of Satan.
Although we often act like sheep, we are more. We are humans created in the image of God. As such, more is expected of us. Like those who heard Peter preach on Pentecost, we have to ask, “What are we to do?” His answer to those who were coming to Christ for the first time was, “Repent and be baptized.” Those of us who are already Christian disciples need to ask the same question, but we’ll get a different answer. We’re called to offer a grateful response for God’s gifts so that we share them in love for God and our neighbor as we use the time, talent, and treasure entrusted to us.