From a sermon On Pastors by Saint Augustine, bishop
In good pastures I shall feed my sheep
I shall lead them forth from the Gentiles, and I shall gather them from foreign lands; I shall bring them into their own land, and I shall feed them on the mountains of Israel. It was God who brought forth the mountains of Israel, that is to say, the authors of the divine Scriptures. Feed there that you may feed in safety. Whatever you hear from that source, you should savor. Whatever is foreign to it, reject. Hear the voice of the shepherd, lest you wander about in the mist. Gather at the mountains of holy Scripture. There, are the things that will delight your hearts; there, you will find nothing poisonous, nothing hostile; there the pastures are most plentiful. There, you will be healthy sheep; you will feed safely on the mountain of Israel.
And I shall feed them in streams and in every inhabited place in the land. From the mountains which we have shown you, there have issued the streams of the gospel message because their voice has gone forth into the whole world, and every habitable place has become pleasant and fertile for the grazing sheep.
In good pastures and on the high mountains of Israel, I shall feed them. And their grazing ground shall be there, that is, the place where they will rest, where they will say: “I am happy”; where they will say: “It is true, it is clear, we are not deceived.” They will find rest in the glory of God, when they find rest in those grazing grounds. And they will sleep, that is, find rest, and they will rest in good pleasures.
And they will be fed in rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. I have already spoken of the mountains of Israel, the good mountains to which we raise our eyes and from which may come our help. But our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Let us not then place our hope in the good mountains themselves, but let us rely on his word which says: I will feed my sheep on the mountains of Israel. Let us not merely remain on the mountains themselves, for he added immediately: I will feed my sheep. Raise your eyes, therefore, to the mountains, whence your help comes; but take note that he says: I will feed. For your help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He concludes by saying: And I will feed them with judgment. Observe that he alone so feeds his sheep, in feeding them with judgment. For what man can judge rightly concerning another? Our whole daily life is filled with rash judgments. He of whom we had despaired is converted suddenly and becomes very good. He from whom we had anticipated a great deal suddenly fails and becomes very bad. Neither our fear nor our hope is certain.
What any man is today, that man himself scarcely knows. Still in some way he does know what he is today. What he will be tomorrow, however, he does not know. Hence the Lord, who assigns to each what is owed to him, feeds his sheep with judgment, giving some things to one group, other things to another, and to each his due. For he knows what he is doing. With judgment he feeds those whom he, being judged himself, redeemed. Therefore, he himself feeds his sheep with judgment.