Sunday, June 12, 2005
Shepherds Needed  

When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and ever infirmity. (Mt. 9:36-10:1)
Jesus has compassion on the crowds because they are like sheep without a shepherd. The people do not know where to go. They are not being led. Consequently, they are harassed and helpless. Just like sheep who do not have a good shepherd to guide them to where they should go.

It is interesting to note that it is not here that Jesus speaks of His being the Good Shepherd. (He does in John 10.) Instead He turns to His disciples telling them that the harvest is plentiful and they should pray for the Lord to send out laborers to bring in the harvest. Perhaps some of the disciples (and these are all those who are following Jesus, not just the twelve) said a quick prayer. Jesus answers any prayers that were said by choosing the Twelve to be laborers in the harvest. In other words, he provides the people with shepherds and harvesters by appointing the Twelve to be shepherds for the people. They are to go out in His name because He gives them His authority to cast out unclean spirits and to heal diseases.

Today we seem to have the same problem that Jesus found in first century Israel--sheep without shepherds. Yes, we have shepherds, but as at any time, we have shepherds who are not shepherding the sheep (see Ezekial 34). The present crisis has been seen before, and it will be seen again until the end of time. Fr. John Neuhaus has indicated that the present crisis in the Church is a crisis of fidelity. I agree with that assessment, but I would add, based on this passage from Scripture, that the present crisis is a crisis or prayer. "Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest" (Lk. 9:38).

In God's providence, He wants us to pray for the laborers. Yes, this passage can be interpreted on a more a universal basis because, indeed, we are all called to be laborers for Christ. However, the context is very clear that Jesus is concerned about shepherds and harvesters who are to be appointed by Him to serve among the sheep and to gather in the Lord's harvest. Jesus is calling us to pray for the servant-leaders of His Church. We must pray for those whom God has appointed, and we must pray for the Lord to continue to send laborers to gather in the harvest.

Much ink has been spilled in detailing the problems surrounding the sexual scandals of the clergy in the United States and in other countries. I am not suggesting that the truth should not be made known. I am suggesting that those who find this the most troubling, and that should be all who are part of Holy Mother Church, should be praying the most for the Lord to act through those who are His appointed shepherds and to continue to provide holy men (and yes, there are holy men who are serving the Church) to be the bishops and priests of the Church. St. Benedict's order has the motto Ora et Labora. It is worth noting that the in the order it is presented ora comes before labora.

Posted by David at 9:00 AM  |  Comments (0)  | Link


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