16B18. Jeremiah 23:1-6. Jeremiah prophesies that God will appoint shepherds who will lead God’s People in God’s ways and not mislead them as past shepherds had. Jeremiah goes on to write, “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; and on to: “In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security.” It seems to me that Jeremiah is thinking of an earthly king; whereas, we as Christians apply this to Jesus, the spiritual king, who will shepherd his people wisely.
Mark 6:30-34. This gospel reading picks up from last Sunday’s reading after Jesus had sent the Twelve Apostles out to be the new shepherds of Israel, preaching repentance and validating and reinforcing their mission by curing the sick and driving out demons. After that very demanding work, he says, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Jesus felt that they needed to retreat from the intense busyness of this world to nourish themselves interiorly with prayer. However, the people were in such great need for what Jesus had to offer they hastened to that deserted place on foot. “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.” He is the One to save them from being lost spiritually, and likewise us too.
Ephesians 2:13-18. “In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ.” The Gentiles have been brought near to their salvation by the redemption he has given them by offering himself as a sacrifice on the cross. Paul also wrote in Colossians 1:20, “and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross [through him], whether those on earth or those in heaven.” Jesus made Jew and Gentile one “through his flesh, abolishing the law” “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.” “Through him we both have access to one Spirit to the Father.” Paul wrote in Colossians 3:11, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision or uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.” Jesus shepherds his flock together to the gates of heaven.
Psalm 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6. “The Lord is my shepherd.” “He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake,” for he is true to who he is, the God of righteousness. “I fear no evil; for you are at my side.” God is a fatherly, all powerful God who uses his strength to care for me. “You spread the table before me;” “my cup overflows.” God provides generously for all our needs. “In verdant pastures he gives me repose; besides restful waters he leads me.” In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Caring for us as a mother cares for her young; he looks to see that we are refreshed to face the challenges that are to come. He neither overwhelms us with his demands nor allows us to be overwhelmed. He is the awesome God using his might to protect us, yet at the same time a God so meek and humble of heart looking after us in the smallest details.