July 18, 2021
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.”
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.
I don’t know how many of you get to read the daily readings from the USCCB.org website, but I recommend it. You see, the readings through the week bring us to a better understanding of what the Sunday Scriptures are all about.
Today, we hear Jesus telling his apostles to come away to a deserted place to rest. He has just sent them off 1 X 1 to take the gospel to the lost sheep of Israel. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and a good shepherd will never give up on trying to save his sheep. He gave specific directions on how they were to comport themselves. Take nothing to sustain them – no second cloak, no extra sandals, no food, no money – Trust the Lord.They are excited to share the news of all they had done and taught.
Jesus, recognizing they would soon be crashing from all the excitement wants to get them rest. There are so many people, 1,000s, moving about and no one even has time to eat. So, they move away in a boat, but the people hear and see, and all the towns nearby empty their streets to go and hear Jesus. Jesus is overwhelmed once again at all the “sheep” without a shepherd. Over 5,000 people are there to hear him and we know what Jesus is about to do – feed the multitudes with a couple of fish and 5 loaves.
He is truly the good shepherd.
With Jesus as our shepherd, how do we find ourselves in a house so divided? How is it that over half of our Catholics, regular attendees, no longer believe in the true presence? How do we, as Catholics, divorce at the same rate as Protestants? Do we no longer honor the Covenant? Is it just a contract?
How is it that I must stand up here and tell you it is wrong to kill a baby in the womb and yet I must be careful even saying that because it may hurt someone’s feelings. Or, why must I say what a loss it is when we begin to talk about ending the lives of our elderly when they are no longer productive members of society – ignoring their gift of knowledge, experience, and wisdom?
Maybe, it is time our feelings get hurt. Maybe we need to hear the harder lessons. For instance, Monday’s Gospel Jesus told his apostles not to think he was bringing peace – no, he was bringing the sword. Son would turn against father, daughter against mother and daughter in law against mother-in-law. He said our enemies would be those in our own homes.
We know Jesus didn’t mean he was bringing a physical sword but rather his message, his Gospel, was a sword that would divide families.
But we have to be careful of preaching certain ways because we can’t hurt the feelings of the receivers. I don’t want to hurt your feelings. I want to be your favorite deacon but I would rather you be angry at me for preaching the Gospel than to allow you to be led astray by the world.
Jeremiah gives a very stern waring for the shepherds. Don’t fail at this job. But if I can’t get a clear and coherent message from those shepherds above me then how are we to make sure we can preach on any subject?We must begin to put our house back together. We must begin to talk to one another. But we must never lose who we are and what we are.
We are Catholics and we follow the Gospel.
At least that’s what I heard Him say…