16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B (2)

In today’s Gospel the Good Shepherd not only goes in search of the lost sheep, but they go looking for him: they know they are lost and Our Lord will care for them.

The First Reading reminds us that the Lord promised to personally shepherd his people after certain shepherds had mislead them, mistreated them, and scattered them. Israel’s kings had not shepherded the Lord’s sheep as they were called to do. When Our Lord sees the crowds seeking him out everywhere, he feels that same compassion, wanting to care for them and lead them to those pastures Jeremiah speaks about. Jesus is Lord and Good Shepherd.

Our Lord doesn’t walk the earth anymore as he did, but people still seek him. Why? The Second Reading tells us that the blood of Christ has drawn together people from near and far. Through Our Lord’s sacrifice we feel the call in our hearts to be united through him. Anything that separates us can be overcome through the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross: we are reconciled with him and reconciled with each other.

Our Lord still works to gather his sheep and lead them to greener pastures, aided by the shepherds he has appointed. After Jesus’ Ascension the people would be seeking out the Apostles taught by Jesus in order to be united into the flock that always remains the Lord’s, as they do today through bishops and priests.

Today’s Gospel reminds us why Our Lord came down from Heaven. The compassionate gaze of Our Lord is the same as the one he had from Heaven when he saw his creation lost and disoriented by sin, hungering for meaning in their lives.

Even now, back at the Father’s right hand, he directs that same compassionate gaze toward us. Maybe we don’t see him seated before us and teaching us, speaking quietly to his disciples and asking them to take care of us too, but in every celebration of the Eucharist the same thing happens.

In parishes and chapels throughout the world we all form small groups of believers, but all those groups are gathered around Christ, who through the Blessed Sacrament can be with all of us.

The Word of God is read and its meaning explained by bishops, priests, and deacons who’ve been entrusted with continuing Our Lord’s mission to preach the Gospel and to care for his flock. Simple bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, the Bread of Life that eventually will end all hunger in us and satisfies our deepest needs. Let’s show our gratitude for Our Lord’s compassion by being his instruments of compassion to those we know who are in spiritual or material need.

Organizations with volunteers speak of the 90%/10% rule: among every ten people the organization serves, one of them volunteers. Do the math on the ratio between pastors and faithful and you’ll get the idea.

Every pastor is a shepherd who is laying down his life for you. Pray for our pastors and support them, whether at the parish itself, with a meal or treat, or a simple “thank you, Father.” As pastors we appreciate your prayers and support.

Readings: Jeremiah 23:1–6; Psalm 23:1–6; Ephesians 2:13–18; Mark 6:30–34.