Theme: JESUS CHRIST THE GOOD SHEPHERD
- Jeremiah 23:1-6;
- Psalm 22. R/ v. 1;
- Ephesians 2:13-18
- Mark 6:30-34
Today is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd!
The gospel today tells us that Jesus and the “apostles” went to a lonely place in order to rest and to eat, but the people followed them. More importantly, the gospel tells us that although Jesus was tired and hungry, he had pity on the people; for they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he went on to teach them at some length! (Faley; Gilhooley) Jesus is the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep! (Jn 10:11-18)
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the good shepherd! (CCB) But the first reading begins by telling us about the bad shepherds of Israel, that is, the bad kings of Israel. The bad shepherd-kings of Israel were unfaithful to God and were unjust to the people of God. As shepherds they did not pasture the sheep. They did not provide for the sheep, but they provided for themselves. They did not take care of the sheep. The sheep were scattered. As a result, God will punish the bad shepherd-kings of Israel.
But more importantly, the first reading tells us that God will bring back the remnants of Israel from the foreign countries where they were dispersed. And God will give them shepherds that will care for them and pasture them. The sheep will increase in numbers and none of them will be lost.
But most importantly, the first reading tells us that God will give them a good shepherd/king who will be a descendent of David! He will be called “Yahweh-is-our-Saving-Justice”. (Jr 23:6; NJB) Or “The Lord Our Salvation”. (Jr 23:6; GNB)
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the good shepherd. (NJB) The responsorial psalm tells us that the good shepherd is the Lord himself! And if the Lord himself is the good shepherd; we will not need or even want anything! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” (Ps 22 (23):1; SM)
The responsorial psalm has four stanzas:
The first stanza tells us that the good shepherd will provide us with food and drink:
“Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.” (vv. 2-3a; SM)
The second stanza tells us that the good shepherd will guide (staff) and protect (rod) us. (HCSB):
“He guides me along the right path; he is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort.” (vv. 3b-4; SM)
The third stanza on the host of the “messianic banquet” (NJB) tells us that the good shepherd will provide us with spiritual food and drink in the Eucharist (Fuller):
“You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.” (v. 5; SM)
And the fourth stanza tells us that the Lord’s goodness and love (CSB; GNB) will follow us all the days of our lives and that we will praise God in his temple forever (Faley; Craghan):
“Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.” (v. 6; SM)!
The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that both Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles) are united in Jesus Christ! The Law of Moses divided the Jews from the non-Jews with the Jews having the privileges and the non-Jews disadvantaged, but Jesus Christ through his death abolished the Law of Moses and replaced it with the Love of God the Father, thus uniting the Jews with the non-Jews and uniting both Jews and non-Jews with God the Father!
Even today the Law of Moses cannot unite the Jews with the non-Jews; only the Love of God in Jesus Christ can unite the Jews with the non-Jews! Even today the Law of Moses cannot unite the peoples of the world; only the Love of God in Jesus Christ can unite the peoples of the world and unite the peoples of the world with God!
Today we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, and we ask God to give us good shepherds in the persons of priests, religious, catechists, lay leaders, prayer leaders, community leaders, etc. We ask God to give us good shepherds that teach the word of God, that pastures the sheep, that provides material and spiritual food and drink for the sheep, that guides and protects the sheep, that unites the sheep, etc.! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.