I am particularly hesitant in writing anything that may be perceived as critical of anyone who serves Christ in the shepherding of his flock
Today's readings, however, can not be ignored: not by me, nor by any shepherd nor by any member of the flock.
Yet, each one of us – you and I – must be careful not to interpret passages of Scripture as only pertaining to other people: in this case, priests, bishops, or other ministers of whom we may think ill – rightly or wrongly.
Each one of us – in ways proper to our respective vocations – are somehow involved in the work of shepherding and therefore each one of us needs to be aware of our own opportunities for improvement.
Each of one of us, therefore, need to hear these prophetic challenges being directed at ourselves, not just "those" shepherds who first pop into our minds.
The first reading (Jeremiah 23:1-6) is particularly blunt:
Woe to the shepherds
and scatter the flock of my pasture,
says the LORD.
Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,
against the shepherds who shepherd my people:
You have scattered my sheep and driven them away.
You have not cared for them,
but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.
I myself will gather the remnant of my flock
from all the lands to which I have driven them
and bring them back to their meadow;
there they shall increase and multiply.
I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them
so that they need no longer fear and tremble;
and none shall be missing, says the LORD.
Do we - distracted by our own personal issues or preferences (liberal or conservative) - mislead, scatter, or fail to care for God's sheep around us?
Thanks be to God that we have the grace and the great example of the Good Shepherd: our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as prophesized by Jeremiah and as described in both today's second reading (Ephesians 2:13-18) and Gospel (Mark 6:30-34).
Whenever we feel angry or frustrated or alienated, thanks be to God that you and I have this wonderful grace and example in Christ:
For he is our peace,
he who made both one
and broke down the dividing wall of enmity,
through his flesh,
abolishing the law
with its commandments and legal claims,
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.
He came and preached
peace to you who were far off
and peace to those who were near,
for through him we both have access
in one Spirit
to the Father.
Whenever we feel overwhelmed, thanks be to God that you and I have this wonderful grace and example in Christ:
He said to them,
"Come away by yourselves to a deserted place
and rest a while."
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves
to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving
and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.
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.
Jesus, loving shepherd, teach us.
Jesus, loving shepherd, calm us.
Jesus, loving shepherd, strengthen us.
Jesus, loving shepherd, draw us close together with you.