God Will Shepherd the People Himself
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Jeremiah R. Grosse
Reproduced with Permission

This morning's reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah is taken from the twenty-third chapter. In the previous chapter, God sent Jeremiah to speak to the King of Judah and tell him to do righteousness on behalf of the people. In keeping with Jewish tradition, the king is told that he must care for the widow, the orphan, and the alien in his midst. If they do not do what God commands, God will turn them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and they will be taken into exile where they will die without ever seeing their homeland again.

The reading begins with God's admonition of those shepherds who scatter the flock. They have not listened to God and now He is going to strip them of their power and shepherd the people Himself.

God's statement to the King of Judah is equally valid for any elected official in the United States today. For the governor of South Carolina to use his office in order to carry out an extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina was not in keeping with what God wants from someone who was given a position of authority over His people.

God tells us that the days are coming when He will appoint shepherds over His people and the people will no longer have to fear or tremble and none of God's sheep will be missing. God will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he call reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land.

Jesus is that promised Good Shepherd who knows each one of His sheep, who offers his life for them and who wishes to gather them together as one flock with one shepherd. He is the shepherd who has come not to be served, but to serve, who in the paschal action of the washing of the feet leaves to His disciples a model of service to one another and who freely offered himself as the innocent lamb sacrificed for our redemption.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom since He came not to call the righteous, but sinners. He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter into the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father's boundless mercy for them and the vast "joy in heaven over one sinner who repents."

While politicians may disappoint us, we need not fear that God will. Offering our lives in service to Him does not mean that we will always have it easy, but the eternal rewards we will receive will more than make up for any earthly difficulties that we might have.