YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: I WILL ATTEND TO MY SHEEP BY MYSELF; YOU HAVE DISAPPOINTED ME.
BY: Fr. Callistus Emenyonu
READINGS: Jer. 23: 1-6, Ps. 23, Eph. 2: 13-18, Mark 6: 30-34
A shepherd is someone who has heart of love and care to tend to the sheep with patience and devotion. The sheep is seen as an animal that is senseless but docile to the command of the shepherd. It lives as if not with knowledge and waits to be directed and moves in obedience to the shepherd’s command. In this case, whatever that happens to the sheep is the problem of the shepherd; he decides and determines the fate of the sheep and is accountable for it.
This is why God got disappointed with the shepherds in the first reading for their attitudes towards the sheep. The sheep is so dear and valuable to the owner (God) and does not entertain any ill-treatment and wicked act against the sheep which he calls the sheep of his pasture. God accuses the shepherds of doing the opposite of what their duty is. The main duty of the shepherd is gathering the sheep to a greener pasture but in this case the shepherd is rather scattering the sheep in his charge that he is supposed to care for. God is sad that the sheep he suffered to rear up and handed over to the shepherds to keep in their custody have then been scattered and driven away. The shepherds have not attended to them but showed careless attitude towards their major responsibility. God angrily has decided to deal with the shepherds because he said he will attend to them for their wrong doing.
Beloved, the issue and good question is: Who then in our circumstance and situation is a shepherd and what makes someone a shepherd? In the first instance the main shepherd in the house of God and his divine business (vineyard) is the priests and specially called and consecrated people with special mission. The priests/ministers have the duty to take special care and attention of the people of God who are the sheep and flock of his hands put in their care. Secondly, parents and teachers and all vested with authority over others, are all shepherds. They have a duty towards the care of those put under their care. God watches all these acts of each and every one of us and how we attend to our duties. The way God spoke of using anger to attend to the shepherds in the first reading, so also will he deal with any of us that messes up his pastoral or shepherding responsibility.
In contrast to the bad shepherds of old referred to in the first reading, the apostles proved themselves good shepherds by the passion they have for the sheep. They had time for them and served their needs restlessly and relentlessly with love and devotion. They went to all the necessary mission they were supposed to go and did all that their master and chief shepherd ordered them to do. They fetched result and real good results at that and were proud to give account of their stewardship in the gospel today. Even when they were worn out and needed rest, they could not for the zeal of the work of the Father devours them. They with Jesus were filled with great love and compassion that they saw them dejected and like sheep without shepherd; they sacrificed their rest and pleasure to serve their needs. The shepherding works of Christ brought us all who were far off near and to salvation by the sacrifice of his blood. To be an ideal and good shepherd, we must be ready to sacrifice our time, energy, leisure and pleasure to serve the interest of the children of God under our care and win them for Christ.
Beloved, as we sing with faith and claim the Lord as our shepherd in whom we shall never be in want, let us also be good shepherds in our different capacities and treat people under our care well so as not to incur God’s anger. May his grace continue to guide us in the right path so that goodness and mercy may follow us all the days of our lives and then we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever and ever, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf