Gospel Reflection: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1

Jer 23:1-6

Woe to the shepherds
who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture,
says the LORD.
Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,
against the shepherds who shepherd my people:
You have scattered my sheep and driven them away.
You have not cared for them,
but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.
I myself will gather the remnant of my flock
from all the lands to which I have driven them
and bring them back to their meadow;
there they shall increase and multiply.
I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them
so that they need no longer fear and tremble;
and none shall be missing, says the LORD.

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD,
when 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.
In his days Judah shall be saved,
Israel shall dwell in security.
This is the name they give him:
"The LORD our justice."

Reading 2

Eph 2:13-18

Brothers and sisters:
In Christ Jesus you who once were far off
have become near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace, he who made both one
and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh,
abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims,
that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two,
thus establishing peace,
and might reconcile both with God,
in one body, through the cross,
putting that enmity to death by it.
He came and preached peace to you who were far off
and peace to those who were near,
for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.


Mk 6:30-34

The apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.


In our first reading, the prophet Jeremiah expresses God’s anger towards those who have scattered His flock. But rather than turn away from His broken people, God says, “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have driven them and bring them back to their meadow…” God bends down Himself to pick up the pieces of the mess. He will allow no misstep to permanently wound His people.

When we read these words prayerfully, we can also see a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, the promised Good Shepherd and “shoot to David,” who unites all people in Himself by bearing the sins of the whole world. On the cross, Jesus took every sin upon Himself and “broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through His flesh…that He might create in Himself one new person in place of the two.” By the blood of Christ, we “who once were far off have become near.” We have become one in His body.

In the Eucharist, these words from Saint Paul ring true again and again, as our God, the Good Shepherd, becomes food for us to eat, which conforms us to Himself. The sacrifice of the Mass is the quintessential act of shepherding, uniting all the lost sheep in the Lamb of God.

Jeremiah says that God promises to appoint good shepherds. Last Sunday, we read that Jesus sent His apostles, two by two, to shepherd the people and bring healing and repentance across the lands. In today’s Gospel, the apostles return, and although Jesus invites them to rest, He sees the desperate crowds and “His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.”

No matter how lost we may feel, or how badly we think that we messed up, God draws us near, preaching peace, guiding and uniting us in Himself. Our lost and weary hearts attract Jesus, and He cannot resist reaching out to us, especially in the Eucharist. So let us pray for the grace to receive His help, to recognize His voice, and to never believe the lie that sin could triumph over God’s boundless love.

Please be assured of my prayers for you before Our Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

+ Bishop Schlert


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