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(Part 84)


July 19, 2015

Today’s readings:
Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm 23:1-6
Ephesians 2:13-18
Mark 6:30-34

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we are his flock whom he fully cares for. “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.” (Ps 23:1). Jesus will do what he can to care for his flock. “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.” (Mk 6:34).

Jesus is now back in heaven, but he continues to care for his flock. This time, it is through human shepherds or servant leaders whom he appoints. Their task is to care for God’s people as Jesus would care for them, and to help assure they make it to heaven. People were lost, but were brought back to God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ.” (Eph 2:13). Unfortunately, God’s flock today is dispersed and many Catholics are among the lost sheep. This is a situation not pleasing to Jesus,

Jesus wants all his flock to make it to heaven, to our eternal home, and that is something we can all look forward to. “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for endless days.” (Ps 23:6b). But that will happen only as Jesus’ human shepherds do their task right.

This is why God’s judgment on shepherds who do not truly pastor His sheep will be severe. It is not just neglect of the flock, but also being the cause for their falling away from the sheepfold. “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the flock of my pasture” (Jer 23:1). Sinful actions of shepherds are not just disservice to the Master, but, given that the flock might be lost and not make it to heaven, are grave sins and will be punished. “You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.” (Jer 23:2b).

What is a shepherd to do? Servant leaders are given authority in order to lead. In doing so, they are to do what is right and just. “As king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land.” (Jer 23:5b). What is right is to care for the flock as Jesus would. What is just is to give to the flock what is their due, that is, the care that comes from God.

Now God wants no one to be lost. God’s people are journeying together to heaven, being their brothers’ keepers so that no one is left behind. A servant leader’s task is also to keep the body united in Christ, “who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity” (Eph 2:14b). A servant leader looks to protecting the body from enmity among the brethren, keeping the peace among them all. In establishing the Christian community, Jesus intends that “he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace” (Eph 2:15b). To attain peace in the body, the brethren need to look to Jesus and how his sacrifice on the cross won for us our salvation, reconciling us with the Father and restoring us all to being children of God. We are one family in Christ, loving one another. The aim is to “reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it.” (Eph 2:16).

Thus human shepherds, the servant leaders in the Church, care for the flock by working for justice and peace in the body. In this way will God’s flock truly attain to the fullness of salvation. “In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security. This is the name to be given him: ‘The Lord our justice.’” (Jer 23:6). “For he is our peace” (Eph 2:14a).

The call to servant leadership is a great calling. Let us be truly mindful of God’s intent: “I will raise up shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear or be terrified; none shall be missing­oracle of the Lord.” (Jer 23:4).

See you all in heaven!

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