Continuing from last weeks Gospel, the Twelve Apostles return from going out two by two. That is, they’re returning from their mission to go out into the surrounding villages to preach, to heal, to teach, and to cast out demons.
Today’s readings now reflect on the authority and mission of the Church.
Jeremiah says in the First Reading that Israel’s leaders, through godlessness and fanciful teachings, had misled and scattered God’s people. The people who were in positions of power and authority, and who were supposed to be spiritual leaders were corrupt. Their hearts had wandered far from God, so they were not able to lead. There is an old expression in the Church: “you cannot give what you do not have.”
So, through Jeremiah, God calls out these leaders, and pronounces his grievances against them in some rather harsh words. But then, in the midst of announcing judgment, God promises to send a shepherd to gather the lost sheep.
This shepherd will not be like the corrupt leaders. Instead, this good shepherd will seek out the lost sheep and bring them back to God.
In the second reading, St. Paul writes to the Ephesians about the power of Jesus which reconciles the lost by his very Blood.
Dr. Scott Hahn writes: “ The crowd gathering on the green grass (see Mark 6:39) in today’s Gospel is the start of the remnant that Jeremiah promised would be brought back to the meadow of Israel. The people seem to sense that Jesus is the Lord, the good shepherd (see John 10:11), the king they’ve been waiting for (see Hosea 3:1-5).
Jesus is moved to pity, seeing them as sheep without a shepherd. This phrase was used by Moses to describe Israel’s need for a shepherd to succeed him (see Numbers 27:17). And as Moses appointed Joshua, Jesus appointed the Twelve to continue shepherding His people on earth.
Jesus had said there were other sheep who did not belong to Israel’s fold, but who would hear His voice and be joined to the one flock of the one shepherd (see John 10:16). In God’s plan, the Church is to seek out first the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and then to bring all nations into the fold.
As we sing in today’s Psalm, through the Church, the Lord, our good shepherd, still leads people to the verdant pastures of the kingdom, to the restful waters of baptism; He still anoints with the oil of confirmation, and spreads the Eucharistic table before all people, filling their cups to overflowing.”
God bless you all, Father Robert Letona