Homily for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B.
Text: Jeremiah 23:1-6; Ephesians 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34.
Theme: SHEPHERD (LEADERSHIP) AFTER GOD’S HEART.
One of the major crises in the world today, is the crisis of leadership. we have leaders who lead astray and leaders who don’t help the people. There are persons in leadership position, whose only idea of leadership is the benefits the position they occupy will generate for them. Leadership has become a source of destruction rather than that of building up. The Holy Mother the Church, through the scriptures of today, contrast evil leadership from Good leadership.
The Church says to us: The ideal leader is one who can win respect and generate trust, one with a clear sense of responsibility, one who can get things done while respecting people’s dignity, rights and feelings. Leaders (Shepherds), are people of integrity who care for others; people who help us follow the right path, and people who show compassion toward others in their weakness & trying moments.
In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah speaks against all classes of careless leaders, because they have shown no concern for the sheep. The prophet also foretells the rise of a new, good shepherd from the line of David.
The second reading introduces Jesus as the shepherd of both the Jews and the Gentiles and explains how Jesus, the good shepherd, has reconciled all of us with His Father by offering Himself on the cross.
The gospel reading presents Jesus as the good shepherd fulfilling God’s promise given through His prophet Jeremiah. Here we see Jesus attending the weary apostles, who have just returned, jubilant, from their first preaching mission, while at the same time expressing concern for the people who, like “sheep without a shepherd,” have gathered at their landing place in the wilderness.
LESSONS TO LEARN FROM THE SCRIPTURES OF TODAY
- EMBRACE YOUR SHEPHERDING (LEADERSHIP) ROLE
The shepherding role is one of service more than dominion. The shepherd image suggests that authority is not mainly the power to impose rules. Its goal is to set a good direction and enable a community to live together in peace, where each individual has dignity and an equal chance of personal fulfillment. The shepherds condemned by Jeremiah in the first reading, were the leaders who neglected their responsibilities and let abuses thrive. His message today is to us priest, parents, teachers, civil servants, political figures, ministers and government officials at all levels, who have the task of keeping public order, defending the rights of citizens and promoting fairness for all, insofar as possible, yet we do the opposite. We are challenged today to return to the right path, duties, and task of giving life to our sheep.
- BE A PASTOR INDEED.
Those who are disciples (disciplined learners) of the Lord Jesus are called to be pastor, “shepherd.” The first and most important role of those who follow the good Shepherd is to be pastoral. As pastors, we must do all we can to give our best to our flocks. By leading, protecting, feeding, comforting, and uniting the sheep. Yes, at times the shepherd must take decisive and assertive control in order to safeguard the flock, but it must be done in a loving and caring manner, which edifies and builds up the whole flock or a single member of the flock who needs that edification for his/her soul.
- RECHARGE TO RECHARGE OTHERS
We need God’s grace to become good and better shepherds. The Christian life is a continuous passage from the presence of God to the presence of people and back to God again. Prayer is essentially listening to God and talking to Him. We should allow God the opportunity to speak to us and recharge us with spiritual energy and strength by setting aside enough time for Him to speak to us and for us to speak to Him. He speaks to us powerfully when we spend some time every day reading the Bible devoutly and meditating on the message God gives us in Scripture. We receive strength from God to do our share of the shepherd’s preaching. One of the reasons we gather for worship each week is for the refreshment of our spirits, the recharging of our spiritual batteries. We need to shut the world out and focus our attention on God’s presence in our lives.
Beloved, God is looking for committed shepherds who would gather the sheep from their dispersion. God is looking for shepherds, who are selfless and focus on the needs of the sheep. God is looking for shepherds who would provide for the flock not consuming the sheep. God is searching for shepherds who would lead the sheep on the right path, not those that mislead them into destructive routes.
The true shepherd provides, protects, and preserves the sheep. God is looking for shepherds that would give those leadership qualities for the well-being of the sheep. Pastoral” ministry today includes not only the pastoral care given by those named or ordained as “pastors,” but the loving service given by many others who follow different callings to serve and lead others.
May God help us become true Shepherds and leaders after His Heart.
Fr Paul George Ekanem, C.Ss.R
writes from Calabar