- Bill Miller
Scripture Reflection for Sunday, July 18, 2021
Updated: Apr 5, 2022
It never ceases to amaze me, how Sacred Scripture from both the Old and the New Testaments always contains wisdom that can be applied to our present day. Moreover, the messages from Scripture frequently relate (in remarkable fashion) to situations we deal with on a daily basis! It is as if God knew that these messages could give us all the information and wisdom we need in order to live a rich and holy life. Imagine that!
Today’s readings fit this model amazingly well! Let’s focus for a couple of minutes on the first reading, from the Prophet Jeremiah, in which he tells of shepherds who lead their flocks astray. The role of the shepherd, was of particularly high esteem in cultures that were rooted in the land, such as ancient Israel. No one was more important to the life and livelihood of a family of herders than the shepherd. Jeremiah knew that the shepherd had the ultimate responsibility for the welfare of the sheep. As a prophet of God, he also knew the grave danger lurking for those who followed an unworthy or unrighteous shepherd, whether the followers were sheep or people.
That said, there is one significant difference between sheep and people; we the people have the ability to think and reason for ourselves. Therefore, we share some responsibility for the shepherd that we follow. In our society, many individuals (and groups) vie for our attention in an effort to shepherd us - that is - to influence the path that we will follow in living our lives. Some are politicians; some, leaders of industry; others are celebrities; some claim (correctly or incorrectly) to be spiritual leaders. It is vitally important to remember that, for us as Christians, there is only one true Shepherd, Jesus Christ. We have the responsibility to learn all we can about his message to us and his hopes for us. And we must work at it. It is not enough to simply follow the first thing we read on the internet or the first commentary we hear on TV. We must educate ourselves and investigate, in order to discern for ourselves, to the best of our abilities, which shepherds convey the most accurate version of the Good News/Gospel, the message of Jesus Christ. It is a message of justice, a message of peace and most important, a message of undying love. Being a Christian is a full-time job! I am now retired, yet this is one job I can’t “afford” to leave!