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.
You and I are called to draw others to faith in Jesus Christ. You and I are expected to know what that faith means in our own lives and to let that faith touch the lives of others in such a way that they also will want to believe. This desire to share with others our faith in Jesus is at the heart of the teachings of our readings today.
The Prophet Jeremiah, in the first reading today, is clear that we must never mislead others. Perhaps this has made us not want to share our faith because of the fear of sharing incorrectly. For most of us, however, it is not this fear of sharing incorrectly that stifles our desire to share our faith. Rather, it is a lack of interest at times or a sense that religion is a truly private affair or simply that I don’t have much faith.
Sometimes we point to our leaders, as in the reading from the Prophet Jeremiah. It is their fault! This is truly a distraction from our own faith in Jesus. Surely we want good leaders. Yes, we need to point out bad leaders. Yet, deep within us, you and I are responsible for our faith and we must learn to live it that way.
The Letter to the Ephesians, the second reading today, reminds us that Jesus came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. Jesus preaches to all of us, not just to the leaders of religion! Jesus is calling each one of us, not just the leaders. Let us open our ears and our hearts and respond to Him.
The Gospel of Mark today points out that even Jesus got tired of the constant crush of people. He suggests to his close followers that they go off and pray, but when they arrived to the place where they hoped to pray, the people had arrived before them. For anyone in ministry today, this scene evokes a reality that happens regularly. Just when a person thinks that he or she will have a little time for themselves for prayer or reading or relaxing, something comes up and takes away that lovely thought and replaces it with a concrete need to minister!
Today then we want to reflect in our hearts on these realities. God calls each one of us. Some are leaders but all are called to be faithful. Following Jesus and doing His will may often take away the comfortable aspects of our lives. We are called to respond to all who ask us, not just to those who leave us comfortable in our response. How quickly our world would change if all of us who follow Christ would preach in His name and be faithful to all that He asks of us!
May it be so!