Year B: Homily for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Theme: A SHEPHERD AFTER THE HEART OF GOD.
By: Fr A. N. ABIAGOM, CM.
Homily for Sunday July 18 2021
Dear people of God, a shepherd according to the Hebrew meaning of the word in Genesis 4:2 is a “keeper.” Abel was a keeper of flocks. David said in Psalm 23,1″the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” He went further in that chapter to explain the shepherd as one who makes the led to lie down in green pastures and leads them beside still waters. A shepherd also has the meaning of “being in friendship” or “in association with”, because the Hebrew root of the word relates to “friendship.” Also, a shepherd could mean a “ruler” as the Hebrew word used for rulers in Jer 2:8 is from the root word ” Shepherd.”
In the first reading (Jeremiah 23:1-6) The Lord was indignant at the shepherds of Israel because they scattered the flock instead of gathering them. Thus he promises to bring back the scattered flock and set a shepherd over them.
When we talk of a shepherd in our world today, anyone who occupies a leadership position in the secular or religious society is a shepherd: A priest, members of the parish pastoral council, a father or mother in the family, the president of country, governors, ministers in political offices, the head of a professional teams: doctors, lecturers, teachers, military, engineers, the members of the judiciary, legislative and the executive arms of government, heads of trade unions, and others, all have been given the privilege of being shepherds.
In the gospel (Mark 6:30-34), after Jesus had been engaged with lots of missionary activities, he sought to be alone with his disciples. However, crossing to the other side of Lake, the people had gone ahead of them. Seeing the people who were before him like sheeps with a shepherd, he felt compassion for them and began to teach them.
Compassion is one quality that a shepherd after the heart of God should possess. The second reading (Ephesians 2:13-18) tells us that Jesus is our peace. Our reconciliation with God was won by the sacrifice of his precious blood. Without the compassion of Christ, our reconciliation with God and one another would not be possible.
Today, the readings call us to evaluate our respective roles of shepherding the flock that God has given us. Do we shepherd like Christ? Do we establish friendship with the flock that the Father has given to us? Do we feed them and protect them?
Many nations are in pains and difficulties today because their leaders have failed in their leadership responsibilities. Many homes are ruined today because parents have failed in their roles as shepherds. Many churches are in crisis today because their pastors have also failed in the discharge of their duties.
The world needs true shepherds who are willing like Christ to lay down their lives for their flocks. When there is a true shepherd, the flock is secured.
I conclude this homily with a short story, a boy grew into adulthood and had to fulfill the rites of initiation into adulthood by sleeping in a very dangerous forest through the night. He was unable to sleep all night long, afraid of being devoured by wild beasts should he close his eyes. At dawn, he noticed there was a man holding a gun behind the tree where he was. It was his father, he was there with his son all through the night without his son’s knowledge. He was there to protect him and keep him safe. That is the work of a shepherd.
May the Lord give us the grace to fulfil faithfully the shepherd roles He has given to us now and always, through Christ our Lord (Amen).