The Compassionate Lord Will Gather, Heal and Restore Us
Readings: 1st: Jer 23, 1-6; Ps 23; 2nd: Eph 2, 13-18; Gos Mk 6, 30-34
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today is the sixteenth Sunday of ordinary time. On this graceful and glorious Sunday, the church invites us to celebrate Christ the good shepherd who gathers all his scattered people and leads them to the Father. Gathering of God’s people is one theme that all the reading s of this Sunday expressed in one way or the other.
To say that people are scattered could mean the following. First, before they were scattered for whatever reason, they were together and enjoyed unity. The second is that, there is hope that one day they will return to live together. However, the question is, why would people scatter or leave their beloved land, why is there so much mass migration and destitution all over the world today? The truth is that no child runs away from home for no reason.
Studies in “Irritability and Sensibility” show that living organisms naturally drift away from threats and dangers. Through “survival instinct,” they manage to overcome and continue to live. Something is wrong somewhere! That is why people take all the risk in order to move. These include, the risk of drowning in the sea, the risk of starving to death in the most dangerous deserts of the world, the risk of freezing in the cold, and of course the risk of being imprisoned for infringing very harsh immigration laws. The reason for this is quite simple. It is a sign that their leaders and system which are supposed to protect them have failed them. It is a struggle for survival by a people abandoned to their own fate by their leaders.
The scattering of a people is a sign that something has gone wrong. In the case of Israel, most times their scattering was a consequence of: bad leadership, a failed system as well as their sins. So like sheep without a shepherd, the poor masses have to fend for themselves at the risk of the dangerous wolves represented by all tough situations. This is the true picture we see all over the world today. However, today, God gives us hope thorough the prophet Jeremiah: “See, the days are coming, when I will raise a virtuous branch for David who will reign as a true king and be wise, practicing honesty and integrity in the land.”
On his part, Paul reminds us that: “…You that used to be so far apart have been brought very close, by the blood of Christ.” This simply means that Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah. He is our peace, and has broken down the barrier which used to keep us apart. Hence, the good news this Sunday is that God is capable of restoring us and the broken elements of our land. This is a message of hope and could not have come at any other time better than now that we are passing through all form of economic, political and social crisis including the greatest and most deadly migrations the world has ever witnessed.
Finally, in the gospel of this Sunday, Christ demonstrated that he is that good shepherd promised by Jeremiah. He demonstrated that he will not rest until we and our land is completely healed and restored. This was why he had to break his rest and vacation in order to attend to his people. As a compassionate Lord and shepherd, Jesus knows our situation. He is not keeping quiet in our situations. He sees our helplessness and knows how our leaders have left us wandering about like sheep without shepherd. He is doing something about it and, will not rest until we are gathered and restored. All we need is simply to do whatever God wants us to do in order to heal us and our land. We also need to believe Him by constantly saying: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want!”
Peace be with you!!