16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Scripture we hear about the image of shepherd to help us understand our relationship with God. We do not need to be living 2000 years ago in a rural setting as Jews to understand the meaning. The very basic meaning of that relationship of shepherd to flock is one of care.

In our first reading today, we hear from the prophet Jeremiah. He speaks for God. He delivers God‘s message. It is a reprimand to the leaders of the Jewish people at the time. The leaders, the shepherds of the people, have not been taking care of people

We’re hear the famous Psalm 23 that says “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”

Most of us are quite familiar with the words of this psalm. What does a good shepherd do? We know Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd.

We hear in Psalm 23 what a good shepherd does. A good shepherd “guides in right paths” – this means that the one who shepherds us – leads us guides us on the path of God. A good shepherd in our life does not simply allow us to do whatever we want, but rather guides us in the direction that is best for us – and that is planned by God.

We are told in Psalm 23 that “even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil”. A good shepherd gives courage. So someone who acts as a shepherd in our lives will be with us in dark days and help us face our fears. They will give us courage. Who does this for you? Who gives you courage during the day? Who helps you face your fears? Who walks with you in your dark moments just to be present to you?

In Psalm 23 we hear “you spread the table before me”. Who takes care of your basic needs? Who asks if you have eaten during the day? Who looks to take care of you?

In Psalm 23 we hear of the good shepherd “you anoint my head with oil” The shepherd would anoint the head of the sheep with oil to create a protective barrier against the biting gnats. So who helps you overcome things that pester you? Who helps you overcome anxieties and worries that you have? This is the one who acts as a shepherd in your life

Psalm 23 provides a blueprint for what a good shepherd does. We can first of all look at our lives and identify those helpers, friends, parents, coaches, priests, ministers, nurses, family members, who take care of us. These are the people who guide us along our way and walk on our life‘s journey. They look out for us. They care for us. My prayer is that you have many good shepherds in your life.

And then we can take on the role ourselves for others. Have you been a mentor, a teacher, a friend, a gentle guide to a special person in your life, to someone that you loved how much someone that you cared about?

Do we reach out to the Lord and ask Him to shepherd us? We do accept His teaching and guidance? Do we seek to understand His plan? Do we acknowledge that God knows what is best for us?

In Marks Gospel today we are presented with the compassion of Christ. We are told that Jesus looks at the crowds and his heart is moved with pity. This shows that God cares about us. Do we except this care? Do we look to God to be our shepherd. Do we reach out to the Lord to shepherd us? This is more than asking for his love. It is excepting the guidance and direction that comes with the laugh. It is an acknowledgment that we need to be moved according to his will and his plan. It is not free license to do as we choose in any situation or circumstance. It really is recognizing that God knows what is best for us and that we seek to understand and accept God‘s call and plan. 

Today let us identify and be grateful for the good shepherds in our lives. Let us look to the blueprint of Psalm 23 and strive and aspire to be good shepherds unto others. And finally – let us always reach out to the Lord and accept Him and truly allow Him to be the Shepherd of our lives.

First Reading
Jer 23:1-6

I will gather the remnant of my flock and appoint shepherds for them.

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah

Woe to the shepherds
   who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture,
   says the LORD.
Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,
   against the shepherds who shepherd my people:
   You have scattered my sheep and driven them away.
You have not cared for them,
   but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.
I myself will gather the remnant of my flock
   from all the lands to which I have driven them
   and bring them back to their meadow;
   there they shall increase and multiply.
I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them
   so that they need no longer fear and tremble;
   and none shall be missing, says the LORD.

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD,
   when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David;
as king he shall reign and govern wisely,
   he shall do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah shall be saved,
   Israel shall dwell in security.
This is the name they give him:
   “The LORD our justice.”

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6

R. :

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
   In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
   he refreshes my soul.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me in right paths
   for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
   I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
   that give me courage.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You spread the table before me
   in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
   all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
   for years to come.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Second Reading
Eph 2:13-18

Christ is our peace who made both one.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians

Brothers and sisters:
In Christ Jesus you who once were far off
   have become near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace, he who made both one
   and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh,
   abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims,
   that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two,
   thus establishing peace,
   and might reconcile both with God,
   in one body, through the cross,
   putting that enmity to death by it.
He came and preached peace to you who were far off
   and peace to those who were near,
   for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Acclamation before the Gospel
Jn 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Mk 6:30-34

They were like sheep without a shepherd.

✠ A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

The apostles gathered together with Jesus
   and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
   “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
People were coming and going in great numbers,
   and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
   and arrived at the place before them.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
   his heart was moved with pity for them,
   for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
   and he began to teach them many things.

At the end of the Gospel, the Deacon, or the Priest, acclaims:

The Gospel of the Lord.

All reply:

Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

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