Taste and See: Consequences and mercy

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‘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:
The-Lord-our-integrity.’

First reading for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 23:1-6

The sins and failings of the shepherds are harder to hide these days. And that’s good.

We do well to follow the example of the Lord in the passage above and, in the wake of their failure, our primary concern should be for those who suffer because of their faithlessness.

The failed leaders face their doom – punishment and obloquy – but, for all that, they are not without the mercy of God. Sometimes the sheep need to be ready to minister to the former shepherds, when there is repentance. None of us are beyond the love of Christ in his Church, and all of us share in the responsibility of helping that love to applied wherever it is needed.

Window at St Mary’s Priory, Abergavenny to replace the missing elements of the pre-Reformation Jesse Tree (see blog for 22/7/18).  © 2017, Allen Morris

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