The image of the shepherd appears in both the Gospel and First Reading today. It is clearly an ancient image which God has used to speak of his relationship to us: He cares for us. Through the prophet Jeremiah God reassures a people who had been misled, who did not remain faithful to the covenant and who had been exiled, that he would restore them to friendship, bring them home and care for them. What he did for the Jews in the sixth century before Christ in a geopolitical sense, he did for the entire world in the spiritual sense in the person of Jesus Christ: he redeemed humanity by Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross. The pity or compassion that Jesus showed to the crowds in today’s gospel who hungered for his word, “like sheep without a shepherd,” was a prelude for the greatest gift the Good Shepherd would give to his flock: “A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
The passage from Saint Paul in today’s Second Reading sums this all up. The blood of Christ, shed on the cross, has broken down the wall of enmity between humanity and God, and has established peace, reconciling us to God. There is the heart of the Christian gospel. This is the mystery the Church proclaims and celebrates in the sacraments. If only we could fully appreciate this gift! If only we could live as a people redeemed, reconciled and at peace with God and one another! For this we pray today: “Show favor, O Lord, to your servants and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace, that, made fervent in faith, hope and charity, they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands.” (Today’s Opening Prayer)
Last Sunday the Lord provided us with a beautiful day for St. Peter’s Shin-Dig. Thanks to all who worked so hard to make it happen; to all who came to enjoy the fruit of their labor; and to the businesses and individuals who donated food, prizes and other items; and to all who put everything back in order afterwards. This event is a testament to the value and strong tradition of Catholic education in St. Peter Parish.
I’ve had a good vacation at the home farm so far. Aside from a few days with high humidity, the weather has been good and everything is green. I’ve been mowing, cutting weeds, visiting relatives and taking it easy. There is a strip of oats in the neighborhood, some of which I hope to get cut and shocked by the end of this week, hoping it’s far enough along in time. After a couple of weeks in the shock, we’ll get it loaded up and under cover to hold for threshing on September 1.
Pray the Rosary this week for the bishop, priests and deacons who shepherd the Church in our diocese. Pray for our seminarians and for all young men and women discerning their vocation in the Church, that they may respond to God’s will as generously and faithfully as possible. Pray for those in our country who are suffering devastation due to wildfires or floods and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.