Gospel Reflections

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Mark 6:30-34

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Esther Adama

Published: July 19, 2015

The Gospel reading reminds me of the Fulani tribe in Nigeria well known for grazing their flocks and caring for them. They learn the skills to pasture, care, protect and control their flocks from childhood. When a calf is weak and tired, the shepherd carries it on his shoulders. They are even ready to give their lives in exchange for their sheep. These attitudes and qualities of selfless service are what God expects the leaders of Israel to exhibit towards the people, as we see in today’s various readings. The people failed to show this selfless service.

The prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 23:1-6) pronounces a word of doom on the shepherds of Israel. Instead of serving and caring for others, they were more interested in serving themselves. As his representatives, they were expected to make God’s love visible. Unfortunately, most of them were poor leaders, more interested in looking after themselves than their people.

This kind of leadership is fully active and present in our world today. Whether secular or religious, many leaders now want to rule for life, but do not have at heart the interest of those who elected them, but are only after their own interest. We see that poverty is on the increase, instead of the alleviation of poverty. People work hard without pay. There is much corruption, moral decadence, environmental pollution, diseases of one kind or the other, lack of basic social amenities. Yet we have leaders who rule and drain money from the public for their pockets. We hear and experience insecurity in our world, caused by selfish human beings. We ask: Who are the Jeremiahs of our time?

Jeremiah says, “Doom to the shepherds, leader, heads of household and those vested with one responsibility or the other small or big who allow the flock of my pasture to be destroyed and scattered” (Jer. 23:1). Thanks be to God who gives us hope. God promised through Jeremiah that He would send them someone to reign as true king and to be wise (Jer. 23:5-6). This promised One refers of course to Jesus who comes as Messiah. He comes and shows the way to true leadership. Jesus is the true and ideal shepherd whom God has sent to us. He lives his life as an example to emulate for everyone in all spheres of life. Jesus is generous, not selfish, like many Old Testament kings and so many of us. He serves others, not himself. The Gospel shows that He came to serve not to be served but to serve and lay down his life for all. Matt 20:28; (Mark 10:45). Jesus cares for us and loves us dearly. The Kingdom of God, established by Jesus is one of loving service to one another.

It is my prayer that we will all be challenged by this Sunday’s readings, in claiming for our time, the promises fulfilled in Jesus. I pray that we work to recreate the face of the earth, as co-creators with our God, generous and good shepherds of the flocks entrusted to us by the good God. Like Jesus, let us love, serve and care for them in selflessness....

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