The REAL Shepherd
Daily Gospel Reflection: Mt 9:32-38
Read today's readings on the USCCB site.
Despite the Pharisees publicly attempting to defame him, Jesus still preaches the Kingdom of God to all and heals the Jewish people.
The text tells us that Jesus goes to ALL the towns and villages, and Matthew records that,
At the sight of the crowds he was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Vs. 36.
I get the sense from these lines that the Jewish people were in need of God's love and hope, as though they were desperate for their God to care for each of them personally. How much I also identify with feeling desperate at times! I long to know and experience God's love for me!
Jesus’ response to the people stands in contrast to the harsh words from Ezekiel 34 regarding shepherds of God's flock:
Thus says the Lord God: Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep.
You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them. Vs.2-4.
The ones who accuse Jesus of healing the demoniac via a demon himself are the very ones who feed themselves and starve the sheep! God's flock are found by Jesus in such need that he asks his disciples to pray to God that more help will be delivered!
The good news is that, as Ezekiel foretold, God himself has come to be the Good Shepherd:
I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak Vs. 15-16.
This is exactly what we hear Jesus doing today. God has come to find us and bring us to him, to heal us, and to dwell with us, now and for all eternity.
I find myself thankful that this Shepherd has opened up his promise of eternal life with him to all peoples and for all time. I know I can count on him to seek me out until he finds me; he is truly the Good Shepherd.