“I WILL GATHER THE REMNANT OF MY FLOCK…I WILL SET SHEPHERDS OVER THEM WHO WILL CARE FOR THEM” (Jer 23:3-4)
📕Jer 23:1-6; Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6 (R.v.1); Eph 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34
Last Sunday, we reflected on the difference between the true and false prophets. That distinction continues today in our liturgy with a wider perspective to also include all the leaders in the society. The attention is on their role as the shepherds of the people.
The Book of Jeremiah dwelt so much on the prophets and prophecy, and denounced the false prophets in many ways and places. It considers the problem of the land as having a lot to do with the decay of the leadership, with the false prophets contributing greatly to that crisis.
In our First Reading, the Lord condemned the so-called shepherds of Israel who fail to lead the flock to good pasture but rather work to scatter them. Since those leaders have failed, he would now come and lead his flock himself, and he is going to lead them into green pasture, as the psalmist declares in the Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 23), where they would be fruitful and increase in number (cf. Jer 23:3).
Did you notice the likeness of that prophecy to the original intention of God for man which is found in Gen 1:28? That means, God’s intention is to return the people back to the original state when God made all things well (cf. Gen 1:31). That is why the name of the expected shepherd who would lead the flock to that pasture is “The Lord is our righteousness” (Jer 23:6).
The attitude of Jesus in the Gospel marked him out as that kind of Messiah that can initiate such a move to good pasture. In Jesus, we see a caring and compassionate shepherd who is after the welfare of his flock. He wants them to have adequate rest so that they can be more efficient and focused, without leading others astray.
When the righteous is in authority, people rejoice and great peace abounds in the nation. St. Paul acknowledges, in the Second Reading, that Jesus Christ is our peace and his presence heals all forms of division, such that we all now form one body in him.
In our society that is bedeviled by bad leadership in both political and religious parlance, leading to the scattering of the flock, let us ask Jesus, the Good Shepherd (John 10:11) to raise up for us, shepherds after his own heart (Jer 23:). And may he use our leaders as instruments to lead his people to great pasture where all shall get what is due to him at the right time. Amen.
Peace be with you.