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Saturday 25 July 2015


A HOMILY FOR TRINITY 7  (16B)  July 19, 2015                                                   

“(Christ) is our peace, he who … broke down the dividing wall of enmity.”

Jeremiah denounced the pagan worship of the Israelites, and their faithlessness to the true God.  He was appalled at the worship of Baal, a false god whose adherents would engage in child sacrifice. He readily condemned this practice as evil and contrary to the will of God, the giver of all life.
As we have it today the abortion industry reflects this life-destroying evil that has plagued humanity.  The face of Planned Parenthood looms over the debate today with recent revelations of the unspeakable practice of selling the body parts of infants killed in the birth canal.

As we see in our First Reading, Jeremiah brought particular fire down upon the greed and corruption of the shepherds, the leaders, of God’s people. He charges that these shepherds: “ . . . have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them.”  Leadership in our nation and around the world has much to answer for in the holocaust of our young.

Under the guise of leading families with "planning" the abortion industry destroys hundreds of thousands of lives annually while enriching those who work in this industry fuelled by greed and selfishness.

Jeremiah was never well-liked. His life was marked by rejection, alienation, and abandonment because he chose to tell the truth about life and the sovereignty of God.

To his great horror, he witnessed the fall of the southern kingdom (Judah), the exile of God’s people to Babylonia, and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. All hope seemed lost to the Chosen People. In exile, however, Jeremiah preached a message of restoration and hope. 

Jeremiah called the people back to God’s covenant, and to his household. The prophet’s cry was simple: follow the ways of God, and allow him to work, once again, among his people. The Lord promised through Jeremiah: “I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer to fear and tremble; and none shall be missing.”

True shepherds will lead us to respect for life and a way of life that reflects the glory of God.

In the Gospel Jesus calls his apostles to a moment of quiet and reflection. They had just returned from apostolic teaching in the way Jesus had shown them. They were tired.  Jesus called them to rest. The people, however, would not leave Jesus and the apostles alone. When the Lord Jesus saw the people, “his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” They looked like the Israelites of Jeremiah’s day, and the Lord Jesus was moved with compassion.

The good shepherd cares for the flock, and seeks to bring together those who have been scattered, especially those who have been marginalized.  The Letter to the Ephesians speaks of this: “For (Christ) is our peace, he who … broke down the dividing wall of enmity.” Jesus seeks to defend, heal, feed, encourage, affirm, and love the members of the flock. He is the good shepherd promised to us by God through Jeremiah. The one who values every single life and calls us to do the same.

As we see Jesus’ ministry among us, we can echo the Psalmist’s cry: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

In accepting the gentle yoke of this good shepherd, we must come to more deeply realize that we too are called, as members of the baptized, to be good shepherds to those around us and especially the most vulnerable.

We are summoned to be good shepherds to family members, friends, co-workers, neighbours, fellow parishioners, and to all members of our society, especially the weak and vulnerable, the forgotten, or who have no one to advocate for them!

Today, we repent and we ask: Where can we better reflect the Good Shepherd in our lives? Where is the Lord calling us? 

As we celebrate this Eucharist, we ask the Lord to be the Good Shepherd of our lives. And as we seek his guidance, we seek to reflect and be like him, a good shepherd in the midst of our world today.

The Twelve in their first missionary journey recorded in today's Gospel, reflect the authority and mission of the Church.

Jeremiah says that Israel's leaders, through godlessness and selfish teachings, had mislead and scattered God's people. He promises God will send a shepherd, a king and son of David, to gather the lost sheep and appoint for them new shepherds (Ezekiel 34:23).

The crowd gathering on the green grass (Mark 6:39) in today's Gospel is the remnant that Jeremiah promised would be brought back to the meadow of Israel. The people seem to sense that Jesus is the Lord, the good shepherd (see John 10:11), the king they've been waiting for (see Hosea 3:1-5).

Jesus is moved to pity, seeing us as sheep without a shepherd. This phrase was used by Moses to describe Israel's need for a shepherd to succeed him (Numbers 27:17). 

Moses appointed Joshua. Jesus appointed the Twelve to continue shepherding God’s people on earth. Jesus said there were other sheep who did not belong to Israel's fold, but would hear his voice and be joined to the one flock of the one shepherd (John 10:16). The Church was to seek out first the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and then to bring all nations into the fold (Acts 13:36; Romans 1:16).

St Paul portrays the Church as the new creation, in which those nations who were once far off from God are joined as "one new person" with the children of Israel.

The Lord is our good shepherd and leads people to the verdant pastures of the kingdom, to the restful waters of baptism; He anoints us with the oil of blessing, and spreads the Eucharistic table before his people, filling the cup of life to overflowing.

“(Christ) is our peace, he who … broke down the dividing wall of enmity.”

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