A story from the life of Mother Teresa shows her love for lonely and unwanted people, the "sheep without a shepherd," who, while materially well-off, are sometimes "the poorest of the poor." On one occasion, she visited a well-run nursing home where good food, medical care and other facilities were offered to the elderly. As she moved among the old people, she noticed that none of them smiled unless she touched them and smiled at them first. She also noticed that many of them kept glancing expectantly towards the door while listening to her. When she asked one of the nurses why this was so, she was told: “They are looking for a visit from someone related to them. But, except for an occasional visit, birthday gift or a get-well card, this never happens." Jesus invites us, in today’s Gospel, to show concern, mercy and compassion for such sheep without a shepherd.
We may look at the world around and say, what is going on here, isn't it? It was much different in Jesus time. This weekend reading invites us reflect on shepherd. Jesus looked at the people with pity, and he looks at us with same love and compassion. Jeremiah share the same message in the first reading.
Jeremiah lived in Jerusalem where God called him tom be the prophet, during the reign of King Josiah. His main message are about the vital importance of keeping the Law and the covenant. He also talk about the consequences if they don't keep the law and covenant. Those days there were professional prophets and they led people in wrong direction. Jeremiah says woe to the shepherd who destroy God's flock and says in the future God will gather his people and give them a good shepherd who will be raised in the line of David. We read in the book of Ezekiel 34:4, “You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the stray or seek the lost but ruled them harshly and brutally.” Jeremiah’s prophesy of righteous shepherd refers to the future Messiah,Jesus.
In the Gospel Jesus the Good Shepherd shows great compassion for his people, who were “like sheep without shepherd.” In then book of Numbers 27:17, who will be their leader in battle and who will lead them out and bring them in, that the LORD’s community may not be like sheep without a shepherd.” God gave them Joshua. We see in the Gospel the return of the apostles from their mission and the withdrawal of Jesus with them to a desert place to rest. But a great number of people to follow them. Toward this people of the new exodus Jesus is moved with pity; he satisfies their spiritual hunger by teaching them many things, then we following today's reading feeding the five thousand. Jesus shows them gradually himself as the faithful shepherd of a new Israel.
In this reading, Paul celebrates the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (first reading) of a future shepherd who would gather the dispersed and the scattered into one people of God. He elaborate imagery here combines pictures of Christ as our peace. We read in the book of Isaiah 9:5, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.”
We have good shepherd who laid down his life for us. A the same time he asks us to be a shepherd, and do with love and compassion. We have to look at choice we make with our time, gift and treasure. How we use it? Just for example, we enjoy our summer, we have to get most of it. How much time we take to give thanks to God for the gift. How many of us take time to go Church on the weekend during summer camping or vacationing? If you traveling, find a church. How many of us tell our children to go church or make a week to attend a vacation Bible school? We have to be concerned about everything in our life, but we have find time for God. On other hand we have to share our time, talent and treasures with other.