The first reading for the 16th Sunday of the year introduced the theme of the Shepherd and his sheep, which was there again in the Psalm and the Gospel of the day.
It surely puts the fear of God into shepherds.
Doom for the shepherds who allow the flock of my pasture to be destroyed and scattered – it is the Lord who speaks! This, therefore, is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says about the shepherds in charge of my people: You have let my flock be scattered and go wandering and have not taken care of them.
Right, I will take care of you for your misdeeds – it is the Lord who speaks! But the remnant of my flock I myself will gather from all the countries where I have dispersed them, and will bring them back to their pastures: they shall be fruitful and increase in numbers. I will raise up shepherds to look after them and pasture them; no fear, no terror for them any more; not one shall be lost – it is the Lord who speaks!
‘See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks –
when I will raise a virtuous Branch for David,
who will reign as true king and be wise,
practising honesty and integrity in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel dwell in confidence.
And this is the name he will be called:
Each of us in our different ways has a leadership role, has a responsibility for the health of our community. We make a difference, for good or ill, to its health and cohesion, its sense of direction and righteousness.
Western society tends to emphasise the virtues of the individual, lonely (before God, or himself, depending on their faith or lack of it). The scriptures always urge us to see ourselves as part of a whole.
Failing or triumphant, we have the Lord as our shepherd. Today is a new day in which to renew our trust in him, and recommit ourselves to his work.
- For whom can you be a good shepherd?
- Where do you need the shepherding love of God today?
St Bernadette as shepherd, Lourdes. (c) 2008, Allen Morris.