In today’s Gospel we see in brief the concern Our Lord has for every soul, a concern he describes as like a shepherd toward his sheep. Throughout Church history this has been seen as “pastoral” concern for others: the Good Shepherd has entrusted his sheep to Peter, to the Apostles, and, throughout history, to bishops and priests. Deacons, consecrated persons, and the laity have helped them in this mission from the beginning. The pastoral mission includes teaching, healing, and guiding, in imitation of the Good Shepherd, who, as today’s Gospel describes, went about preaching the Gospel (teaching), curing (healing), and seeking to help the lost and abandoned who needed direction, like sheep without shepherds (guiding).
Today we describe this as the teaching office, the ruling office, and the sanctifying office of pastors. Our Lord reminds us in today’s Gospel that there are many people in need of instruction, guidance, and healing, and he seeks help in giving them the attention they need. All the pastoral solicitude of the Church strives to fulfill this wish of Jesus, and he tells us we need to pray that Our Heavenly Father call people to help in this mission. There is a lot of work to be done.
Let’s pray for the workers already laboring in the harvest, and that more respond to Our Heavenly Father’s call with generosity. Let’s also ask ourselves today how we can help all those souls out there in need of instruction, healing, and guidance. Not all are called to be shepherds, but every Christian is called to help those who are.
Readings: Genesis 32:23–33; Psalm 17:1b, 2–3, 6–7b, 8b, 15; Matthew 9:32–38.