Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people: You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds. I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have driven them and bring them back to their meadow; there they shall increase and multiply. I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; and none shall be missing, says the Lord. Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security. This is the name they give him: “The Lord our justice.”
Brothers and sisters: In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
We hear very strong words today in our readings about those who would shepherd God’s people. We are all God’s people and we all need a Good Shepherd. We also need wise and good shepherds in this life. It is not because we are incapable of making good decisions by ourselves, but always those decisions are better when they have been tested by the wisdom of God’s Word.
So for us who believe, a wise and good shepherd is one who can truly open up the Word of God for us and invite us to ponder what God is asking of us.
First of all, we believe that there is a God who really cares about us. Then we must believe that such a God really has revealed Himself in our Holy Scriptures. Both of these beliefs are challenged on every side today. So many people simply do not believe in any God at all. The only gods, the only important values, are those values important to our present age: power, money and sexuality.
As one who must stand before you and speak about God’s Word, I must be able to tell you: I do believe in God and I believe that Jesus Christ is God and is the unique Son of God. I do believe that Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit is God. So I can stand before you and testify that I believe in one God. That one God is three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
But I also need to testify before you that I believe that this one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, has spoken to us in the words of Holy Scripture. I accept the Scriptures given to us by the Catholic Church. I believe that those Scriptures are truly the Word of God, revealed in a unique way. I believe that those Scriptures are the Word of God that will give me life and that will give life to our world.
Only in this context, then, can we understand what a wise and good shepherd might be. Too often in our own times, people go running after any prophet or any person who seems to have some kind of answer to the mystery of life. Sports stars, movie stars, wealthy people and others are all interviewed today to see what “secret” they have about being successful in life.
Yet our whole tradition says that only one person has the words that give eternal life, Jesus our Master. So often we are uneasy about saying that to others. We want to follow Jesus but we don’t want to make fools of ourselves. We don’t want to seem religiously foolish!
We who are Catholics also accept that there is a teaching authority in our Church. We also are uneasy about saying that out loud. Perhaps at times we even find ourselves disagreeing with the teachings of our Church. Yet if I am to stand here in front of you and speak about the Word of God, I must be able to say to you very clearly: I believe in the holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I believe in our Catholic Church. I accept the teaching authority of our Church. There is no way that I could be any kind of wise and good shepherd on my own!
Only when I am united to Christ, only when I preach His Word and only when I am completely in union with the Catholic Church, could I begin to hope that I might have something to say to anyone that would have the truth in it. And unless our shepherds speak the truth, there is nothing worth listening to.
So I invite everyone today to pray for wise and good shepherds in the Church. I invite us to pray for our Holy Father the Pope, for our bishops and for all of us who have some role in the Church in proclaiming God’s Word. People are really hungering for a word of truth! We must find ways to proclaim the truth so that the very power of the truth will bring freedom and spiritual light to others. Let us ask God for this gift among ourselves.