Theme: JESUS CHRIST THE GOOD SHEPHERD
- Jeremiah 23:1-6;
- Psalm 22 (23): R/ v. 1;
- Ephesians 2:13-18
- Mark 6:30-34
1. Today is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings today tell us about Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd.
The gospel tells us that the people were like sheep without a shepherd. More importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd had compassion and pity on them and taught them at some length, though he was tired and had no time to rest and no time to eat. The first duty of a good shepherd is to preach and teach the word of God! Thus we read in the gospel today:
“So as Jesus stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.” (Mk 6:34)
2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. But the first reading tells us about the bad shepherds of Judah, particularly King Zedekiah of Judah (6th Century BC) who against the prophet Jeremiah made alliance with Egypt to rebel against Babylon. As a result Jerusalem was destroyed and the people exiled into Babylon.
The first reading tells us that the bad shepherds (kings) of Judah did not take care of the flock (people) of Judah; as a result the flock was destroyed and scattered. But more importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord will send good shepherds to Judah to take care of the flock of Judah. But most importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord will send a good shepherd to Judah to save Judah. The good shepherd’s name will be: The Lord is our Saving Justice, that is, the Lord is our Salvation! (NJBC) Thus we read in the first reading:
“Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall raise an upright Branch for David; he will reign as king and be wise, doing what is just and upright in the country. In his days Judah will triumph and Israel live in safety. And this is the name he will be called, ‘Yahweh-is-our-Saving-Justice.’” (Jr 23:5-6/NJB)
3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us about the Good Shepherd. The responsorial psalm tells us that the good shepherd provides food and drink for his sheep. Thus we read in the first stanza of the responsorial psalm:
“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.” (Ps 22 (23): 1-3a)
The responsorial psalm also tells us that the good shepherd is also “the host of the messianic banquet”! (NJB) The images of “shepherd” and “host” are closely related as both provide food and drink! (NJBC) Thus we read in the third stanza of the responsorial psalm:
“You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is over flowing.” (Ps 22 (23): 5)
Indeed, Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd gives us his Body to eat and his Blood to drink in the Eucharistic banquet!
4. The second reading tells us that it is through the body and blood of Jesus Christ, it is through his cross, it is through his death and resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit, that the Gentiles are united with the Jews, and that the Gentiles and Jews are united with God the Father!
5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us be good shepherds, to preach and teach the word of God, to celebrate the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and to build Christian communities of love and unity, so that our parish Church may be a community of communities of love and unity, and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the world!