Many of us may be able to think quickly of someone who seems to fit the bill of the Lord’s wrath: people who should have been shepherding God’s people but are instead gratifying themselves.
How can such people read this Scripture and not be ashamed?
Well, one way is to think that this Scripture is really talking about someone else: that notorious pastor over there, that bishop, that cardinal, those Sadducees, etc.
Those of us who are laypeople can fall into the same trap, thinking that the wrath of God is reserved only to ordained ministers who fail.
Each of us, ordained or lay, in different ways share the responsibility of shepherds. Each of us in our own ways are called to strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, bring back the strayed, and seek the lost. To be sure, those of us who are ordained have a heavier responsibility (to whom much is given, much is required), but lack of ordination or ecclesial authority will excuse none of us from doing what we can.
Each of us, lay or ordained, should re-read this passage carefully, ask ourselves some serious questions, and answer them honestly.
Am I just pasturing myself? Is my experience of Church just a “feel-good” experience? Do I get too much pleasure from feelings of moral superiority?
What can I do to spread the Gospel? What can I do to build up the people of God? What can I do to strengthen the weak, care for the injured, and bring back the lost?
We should stop just pasturing ourselves. We may not have the same roles within the Church, but in our own ways each of us must be shepherds.