Gospel Mark 6:30-34
Let us meditate on the Readings that the Liturgy presents to us. The common topic of the First Reading, the Second Reading and the Gospel is the Shepherd-hood of God. In our context in a city it is difficult to form an image of shepherds and sheep. This image of shepherd-hood and the qualities of the shepherd regarding his flock is what God has for each one of us.
There are three levels of shepherd-hood in which we can meditate:
- From God to us – As we see in our life of faith, God nourishing us, protecting us, calling us to be part of His people particularly in His Body in the Church, and giving us the identity of His children.
- Family/Human side – Those that took care of us; our parents, teachers, priests, catechists, friends; those that guided us on our way of life and helped us to be the person we are today.
- We as shepherds – As we have been given responsibility; material, spiritual and human talents to shepherd and look after other people.
How do I experience this shepherd-hood? Who cares for me? Do I feel care? How do I execute it to others? Am I really aware of my responsibility to be a shepherd?
In the image from the First Reading, we have the prophet Jeremiah talking about those shepherds that come to destroy and scatter, not concerned about the sheep but only about themselves. Then are those shepherds that are really caring, making sure that there is prosperity and fruitfulness. Am I the kind of shepherd that destroys and scatters or am I building unity and peace as Jesus did in the Second Reading of St Paul to the Ephesians?
The shepherd in the Responsorial Psalm gives us characteristics – he feeds, partakes, keeps together, assures security, and satisfies. As we pray – The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want… – we as disciples and sheep are invited to meditate how many times we have allowed God to be our Shepherd and how many times we have refused, placed obstacles and preferred to live our own lives far from Him. In this particular time in our lives, how many times have we felt that the Shepherd doesn’t care about us and abandoned us? We feel lonely, despair, insecure and that our faith is failing.
If we feel that the Shepherd is feeding us, protecting us and giving us security and satisfaction then we can say – Thank you, Lord, for being our Shepherd, I feel protected. If we reject our Shepherd and refuse for Him to feed and protect us, then it is an opportunity for us to humble ourselves and ask the Shepherd to admit us once again inside the flock. If we feel abandoned and lonely then ask for the gift of faith, hope, humility, to surrender ourselves, wisdom and understanding to accept God’s time.
In the Second Reading St Paul manifests that Jesus showed His true Shepherd-hood on the cross. In giving up Himself and dying for us, He gave us what is most important – His life and the Sacraments as ways of nourishment.
In the Gospel we have two topics that we can meditate about:
- The invitation of Jesus to His disciples to go to a lonely place and rest.
In this time many of our families and communities need that kind of rest. Rest from uncertainties, anxieties, fear, pain of losing someone, challenges of getting sick, and of being afraid of getting sick. The Lord is inviting you and me today to come away to a lonely place and rest for a while.
- Even though He is inviting you to rest and take time for privacy and nourishment, people are still looking for Him. They are anxious, looking for truth and answers. And Jesus has compassion because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
Let us come today on this 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time and look also on the Shepherd and in Him identify our political leaders and religious leaders and their responsibility of guiding us. There are many challenges they face every day – lack of honesty, selfishness, corruption, greed, and fighting for power. We are also facing this same reality. They need instead to put justice, integrity, social coercion, economical opportunities, and education in order to bring peace to our nation. We are called to pray for them to be the shepherds they are called to be. We are also invited to pray for all the parents that struggle to be good shepherds for their children when they don’t know how to educate and guide. They feel disappointed and frustrated in their mission because even though they have compassion, they are not aware of the skills needed to be good shepherds. Let us also pray for each one of us, that we can experience the Shepherd-hood of Christ in us, that He is coming to feed us, protect us, keep us together and to give us the security and satisfaction we need to reach His Kingdom. Amen.