16th Sunday in Ordinary Time B21
“Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture.” Jeremiah was talking to the religious leaders (mislead) and the political leaders, especially the king (scatter, referring in prophesy the Babylonian Exile). Of course you don’t have to be a religious or political leader to mislead and scatter. Just read Facebook or Twitter for disinformation that people that believe regarding COVID 19 and vaccines. All you need is a computer, social media skills and an unscrupulous conscience.
How do we know what voice to follow when our leaders and others sow doubt, uncertainty and division?
The responsorial psalm gives us clues. First it states that a good shepherd leads us to verdant pastures and refreshing waters where we can find peace and rest. But at the same time the psalm recognizes that these are only stops along the way. It reminds us that a good shepherd will walk with us through dark times, giving us courage to confront any evil we face. And then the psalm pivots. The shepherd becomes a host, providing with a banquet to take care of whatever hunger we have, nourishing our bodies and our souls and spirits, anointing us with kindness and also empowering us to be missionaries, to show others the right path that leads them to enjoy what is awaiting them, refreshment and peace.
There are so many searching people, people hungering for instruction. Witness the plethora of self-improvement books or the ads on TV that promise to make pain and weight go away. As an aside, the warnings of side effects makes me uneasy and hesitant to use any product that is being recommended. But people are desperate to try anything that gives their lives meaning and purpose. They are like sheep without a shepherd.
Mark did not set out to write a biography of Jesus but to herald the good news that could change our lives, to see the world as Jesus looked at his: to have gut-wrenching pity toward the needs of people and respond in any way possible, to teach a better way and nourish their spirits. But there is another component to Jesus’ care which follows: to feed their bodies as well. They need bread for the journey.
Who can be the good shepherds of today? Us! We are taught and fed in this Eucharist. We are also commissioned to lead and gather the scattered flock back to God.
 Jeremiah 23:1