Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday in the 16th Week of Ordinary Time (II)
Of Sowers and Shepherds, Soil and Sheep

Readings: Jeremiah 3:14-17; Jeremiah 31:10, 11-12abcd, 13; Matthew 13:18-23

Today we are presented with two images of how God relates to God’s people. Like a shepherd, God calls and gathers his scattered sheep. He leads them to pasture and guards them from danger. God is also like a sower, who scatters abroad the seed of God’s Word. And when that seed flourishes in good soil, God gathers a rich harvest for the Kingdom.

If like Sower and Shepherd, God indeed scatters and gathers, calls and guards, what might be the response required of us? Ours is to be rich soil and attentive sheep. We need to learn to be ever more open to the Seed of God’s Word, and ever quicker to recognize and eager to respond to the Shepherd’s voice.

And there is more. For are we not, in our turn, called to be shepherd’s and sowers too? “I will give you shepherds after my own heart,” says the Lord. We are called, gathered, and guarded not only for ourselves, but also so that through us, the Lord can call, gather and guard others. But this can only happen when we allow the Lord to give us His heart – the heart of the true Shepherd. Otherwise, our efforts at the ministry of consolation will inevitably degenerate into an exercise in manipulation for our own selfish benefit. To recall another biblical text, rather than pasture the sheep, we will instead pasture ourselves upon them (see, Ezekiel 34).

What kind of soil and sheep, what kind of sowers and shepherds are we?

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