16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Vinner)
The Compassionate Lord Will Gather, Heal and Restore Us
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today’s readings explain how God, like a good shepherd, redeems His people and provides for them. They also challenge us to use our God-given authority in the family, in the Church and in society, with fidelity and responsibility. Today, pastoral ministry includes not only the pastoral care given by those named or ordained as “pastors” but the loving service given by all Christians who follow different callings to serve and lead others.
God calls each one of us. Each of us can be a shepherd and we are also all His sheep. Following our Lord Jesus is to walk in His way and that way is always the way of the cross.
The Prophet Jeremiah recognized that even people who claim to serve the Lord can be false shepherds. This does not mean that we have to become suspicious of everyone in our lives. It does mean that each of us must come to know the Lord so that we are able to recognize Him and to recognize that which is false. To know the Lord Jesus is also to know His Church.
The Gospel tells us about the apostles, who are returning from missions. Jesus tells them of the need to go apart and pray. Although this does not happen in the account given today, we should recognize that it is important for each one of us, in order to be faithful to the Lord, to find time to go apart and pray. It should also be clear from the Gospel that when people come to us who are in need of our ministry, that ministry takes precedence over our private prayer.
To follow the Lord Jesus is to be with Him, to know Him well so that we come to understand a bit how He think and how He feels about things. To follow another person does not mean to stop being ourselves. It does mean that all of our life is formed by Him.
The Letter to the Ephesians is a wonderful understanding of God’s work in Christ Jesus. Jesus came and preached peace to us who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. It does not matter if we are still far off or if we are near: Jesus is calling out to us. Jesus preaches to us/ Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells us to come to Him because in His Spirit we have access to the Father.
How wonderful is this mystery of God’s love for us. We are invited to share God’s own divine life by walking in the way of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The way is always difficult but it always brings to us everlasting life. The way is difficult, but even in this life it brings joy and gladness.
Let us walk with our Shepherd and know His love for us. Let us learn how to be shepherds even as we obey our Shepherd. Let us come to know that great mystery of Christ Jesus and His Church.
We need God’s grace to become good shepherds: The Christian life is a continuous passage from the presence of God to the presence of people and back again. Prayer is essentially listening to God and talking to Him. We should allow God the opportunity to speak to us and recharge us with spiritual energy and strength by setting aside enough time for Him to speak to us and for us to speak to Him. He speaks to us powerfully when we spend some time every day reading the Bible devoutly and meditating on the message God gives us. We receive strength from God to do our share of the shepherd’s preaching and healing ministry by praying to Him individually, in the family and as a community, in the parish Church participating in the Eucharistic celebration.
The Church has the double responsibility of teaching and feeding: There can be no true Christianity without the proclamation of the Gospel. Teaching the Word of God is essential to a Christian community. Christians must also display the compassion of Jesus by meeting the social and material needs of others by our works of charity as individual Christians and as a parish community.
May God Bless us.
FR. S.Vinner HGN