“The Lord God Is My Good Shepherd.”
(Ps 23:1; Jn 10:11)
(Ps 23:1; Jn 10:11)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
From the Readings of this XVI Sunday in the Ordinary Time, Year B, we can learn the message which the Lord God wants to send to each and one of us, His chosen people. God’s message is this: it is the Lord God Who always loves and cares for us the way a good shepherd loves and cares for his sheep.
A shepherd symbolizes a guide, a leader of a community, of a country. The Old Testament fondly prays to the Lord God as “the shepherd of Israel”. King David was tending his father’s sheep when the Lord God anointed him king. A good shepherd, as pictured in the responsorial hymn taken from Psalm 23, dedicates his life to the care of his sheep. He brings them to green pastures, to clean and fresh water, and to safe rest place. He would risk his own life to protect his sheep from any harm and danger.
Unfortunately, there are evil shepherds, as reported in the First Reading taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, who “mislead and scatter the flock.” Later in the New Testament Our Lord Jesus Christ identifies those evil shepherds as “thieves and robbers” who only take advantage of the sheep, abuse and exploit them to increase their personal interests and satisfy their ambitions. They will run away for their life and leave the sheep to the mercy of the hungry wolves.
However, the Lord God never abandons His sheep in danger. He will personally punish evil shepherds and care for His sheep by sending good shepherds after His compassionate heart. He did send good shepherds along the history of salvation. Finally He sent His Only Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the true Good Shepherd, Who laid down His Life to save the sheep from sin and death and give them happy and eternal life.
It is Christ Who came, as told by Saint Paul in the Second Reading taken from the Letter to the Ephesians, to pull down all forms of division, hatred and evil. He reconciled sinners to God the Father. He brought people of different social, cultural, and religious traditions into one family, one flock of God the loving, merciful and forgiving Father.
The message of God which we receive today is so great a consolation for us when we suffer from many forms of evil. We feel painful to see, both in society and in the Church, bad examples overrun good examples. Sometimes we have almost lost our hope for a better society, for a more credible and trustful Church. We even find it hard to believe that the Lord God is still taking control of this world, and that Christ is still staying with the Church as He has promised.
No, we should not be worried, afraid or confused.
The Lord God is our Good Shepherd and Christ staying with the Church, giving us His Word, His Body and Blood for our food.
Let us put our faith in Christ Who leads us to green pastures of eternal life in the Church and in God’s kingdom.
By Fr. Francis Nguyen, O.P.