Alleluia: Good Shepherd

Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
August 17, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is
living and effective,
able to discern the reflections
and thoughts of the heart.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Ezekiel gets another tough assignment from God:

The word of the Lord came to me:
Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel,
in these words prophesy to them to the shepherds:
Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel
who have been pasturing themselves!
Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep?

Ezekiel 34: 1-2

With prophetic insight, Ezekiel understands that Israel’s corrupt leaders will cause its downfall. He takes on the unhappy responsibility of summoning them – and the people – to repentance and conversion of heart.

By comparing Israel’s kings and princes to shepherds, Ezekiel points out how their leadership is a perversion of the ministry to which they have been called. He tells them that God won’t put up with their malfeasance because God has a tenderness for the “sheep” – particularly the struggling ones.

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I swear I am coming against these shepherds.
I will claim my sheep from them
and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep
so that they may no longer pasture themselves.
I will save my sheep, 
that they may no longer be food for their mouths.

For thus says the Lord GOD: 
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.

Ezekiel 34: 10-11

The parallels to our present world are so stark that it’s difficult not to launch into political opining here! But I choose not to because the call within these readings goes much deeper than even current global circumstances.

And it is the call embodied in our Alleluia Verse:

Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern the reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Each one of us is created to live in the sincere light of God’s Word; to discern our relationships within Creation through the ‘living and effective” lens offered to us through our Baptism.

Whether we are leader or follower, these relationships must be built on reverence, honesty, justice, peace and mercy. Only then can we forestall the corporate corruptions that fester in the absence of grace.

The promissory nature of Ezekiel’s oracles articulates what good leadership looks like…in government, in corporations, all through the private sector. That rule consists in:
– Seeking the lost
– Bringing back the strayed
– Binding up the injured
– Strengthening the weak
– Feeding the hungry
In a word, good leadership consists in the restoration of the common good so that all members of the community, strong and weak, rich and poor, may live together in a common shalom of shared resources.

Walter Brueggemann, On Ezekiel 34

In our Gospel, the landowner refuses to be bound by corporate definitions regarding how he treats his laborers. He chooses to be generous, no doubt realizing the laborers’ underlying need for a decent day’s pay. Doing so, the landowner mirrors God whose generosity has granted the landowner life and livelihood.

As we pray today, let’s consider where we serve a leaders, and who depends on our sincere and generous heart for their subsistence. Some of these relationships might be obvious to us – such as the children in our lives, and others whom we support by our presence, care and love.

But others may not be so obvious. There may be others who need us to recognize that they’re waiting to be noticed and invited just like the late laborers of today’s Gospel. Is our world, and our generosity, big enough to include them?

Poetry: Shepherd – Rumi

Be a lamp, 
or a lifeboat, 
or a ladder. 
Help someone’s soul heal. 

Walk out of your house 
like a shepherd.

Music: The Lonely Shepherd – Zamfir

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