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In our Gospel last weekend we heard how Jesus sent out his disciples two by two to preach repentance, drive out demons, and anoint the sick with oil and cure them. In our Gospel this weekend we see the disciples return to Jesus and “report to him all they had done and taught.” While they no doubt were excited by their missionary efforts, Jesus also realized that the disciples were probably tired and hungry, so he said to them: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” Unfortunately, the people followed them and Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them because “they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”
Our first reading for this weekend is from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah. In this reading, the Lord chastises the shepherds “who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture.” There is a clear contrast in this reading between the shepherds who have mislead and misdirected the people and the Lord, the Good Shepherd, who always has the best interests of his people close to his heart. The connection with the Gospel is clear. Jesus is also the Good Shepherd, whose heart is moved with pity for the flock entrusted to his care.
In our second reading for this weekend, we continue to read from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. In this reading Paul reminds us that in Christ Jesus we “who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Have you ever felt yourself being called to go to a deserted place and rest for a while?
- Clearly not all shepherds are “Good Shepherds.” What are the hallmarks of a Good Shepherd.?
- When and/or how have you felt yourself becoming near to Christ?