Jesus is the shepherd that God has raised up in these last days. He responds to the needs of those who are like sheep without a shepherd. Are we that responsible?
The rulers of the people are not responsible. So, they are condemned by the one who has appointed them to be responsible for the people. The one they are accountable to. And so, says the Lord, “Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture.” He, then, promises, “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.”
Jesus fulfills the promise. Like his Father, he shows pity for those who are like sheep without a shepherd. And he begins to teach many things, which shows he is in no hurry. He has time and patience for the needy.
Jesus even lets them spoil the rest he has planned for his missionaries. No, it is not enough for him and them to rest if the crowd stay weary and burdened.
Jesus feels responsible, yes, for the needy. That is why he goes about doing good and healing those oppressed by the devil. He teaches besides in synagogues and announces the Good News. Thus, he reveals that he is the shepherd who looks for the people that irresponsible shepherds have left out. Reconciliation for everyone is something he pursues. He binds up wounds, strengthens the weak and heals those who are sick. And he feeds those who lack food, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, so that they may increase and multiply.
We followers of Jesus are responsible for and to the poor.
We followers of Jesus prove ourselves by becoming responsible as he. He clearly teaches that indifference to the poor means hurt to oneself. Much less can we Christians lock up ourselves in our comfortable and safe structures while poor Lazarus lies at the gate.
If we ignore the needy because we worry about keeping our worship pure with all its prayers, we stray from the Gospel. And true Christians do not find bothersome eating with sinners or welcoming strangers. Feeling that they are responsible for the poor, they also learn “to leave God for God” (SV.EN IX:252).
But true Christians are sensitive also to the deeper needs of the poor. So, they do not settle for the easy solutions that are suggested by those who want to return to slavery just to satisfy their hunger and thirst (Ex 16, 3; 17, 3). True disciples point, rather, to the food and drink that give life, salvation and freedom.
Lord Jesus, make us truly responsible for the poor. May we recognize that you, together with “our lords and masters” (SV.EN X:215), are the higher authority we answer to.
22 July 2018
16th Sunday in O.T. (B)
Jer 23, 1-6; Eph 2, 13-18; Mk 6, 30-34