The word of the Lord came to me: Son of man,prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, in these words prophesy to them to the shepherds: Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves! Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep? You have fed off their milk, worn their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings, but the sheep you have not pastured.
You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost, but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered for the lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered and wandered over all the mountains and high hills; my sheep were scattered over the whole earth, with no one to look after them or to search for them.
Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, says the Lord GOD, because my sheep have been given over to pillage, and because my sheep have become food for everywild beast for lack of a shepherd; because my shepherds did not look after my sheep, but pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep; because of this, shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:
Thus says the Lord God: I swear I am coming against these shepherds. I will claim my sheep from them and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep so that they may no longer pasture themselves. I will save my sheep, that they may no longer be food for their mouths. For thus says the Lord God: I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
God’s lament about the shepherds of Israel makes me think about Pope Francis’ comment that you know a shepherd is really good if he/she smells like the sheep.
It is not only Francis, but Jesus who wants us to get right in there on the ground with our sheep. Whether you are a mother, father, boss, religious superior, trusted friend, older brother or sister; you play the role of shepherd for others. Tend their wounds, seek the lost, strengthen the weak. This is exactly what the Father did when he sent Jesus to become man. Jesus did not remain above our messy human state, but jumped in with both feet and came to smell completely of our humanity. We are called to do the same with the people God puts in our lives!
We are blessed to be part of a spiritual tradition which is totally incarnational. Ignatian spirituality is of and for the world. We find God here and now through the people, circumstances and events of our lives. The reason Ignatius considered the Examen to be the most important prayer in one’s life is because it examines the circumstances, events and people in our lives in order to find God in all things.
—David McNulty works for the Midwest Jesuits. Dave and his wife Judy are grandparents of six.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
— St. Bernard