The Wicked Shepherds

18 August 2010 Wednesday of the 20th Week in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 34, 1-11; Psalm 23; Matthew 20, 1-6

The readings today are parables of shepherding. In the section from the book of the prophet Ezekiel, God declares the end of the wicked shepherds. God entrusted shepherds to take care for Israel, but instead they maligned their constituents. They failed in their responsibilities to the sheep (vv. 2-6). And thus God is coming against them to punish them and to rescue the sheep. He will then take over the responsibilities personally, becoming the Good Shepherd. He will tend the sheep, rescue the scattered flock, bring them to good pasture, seek the lost and bring back the stray to the fold. Within the fold, the wounded sheep will be healed. Verse 11 says, “For thus says the Lord God: I myself will look after and end my sheep.”

What are the faults of the wicked shepherds? They have misused their power. They have been callous to the weak sheep. They were more concerned about their own interest than the welfare of the flock under their care.

Nothing much has changed today. We still have elected leaders who finally showed their true colors once inaugurated. Power is, to me, the most potent addiction. In every corner of the globe, from religious to political leaders, power has oppressed society. They forget the responsibility that comes with the position. They inadvertently neglect to attend to the people under their care. Instead of focusing on the needs of the flock, they discover that power can satisfy their own needs.

However, many of us have adapted the paradigm of the shepherd as the image of leadership. In order to reverse the process of corruption and oppression, we have to refocus our attention to the sheep entrusted to our care. If our lives are dedicated to their needs, and all our programs are directed to respond to them, then we are assured that at the very least, we are good and concerned leaders.

We know that good intentions are not enough. It requires a stronger political will. To combat an unjust structure, a kind leader needs a battalion of soldiers who share his vision. Even in olden times, the shepherd is not alone. He is always with other shepherds. But all have the same vision: the welfare of the flock.

No wonder, every baptized Christian is called to be a shepherd. The good shepherd is the image of the ideal king. And so we are all called to be a king (aside from the call to be priest and prophet at baptism). We are all anointed for us to realize that change can never be done alone; change should be a shared and communitarian endeavor.

Let us therefore support our leaders when they try with all their might to become like Jesus, the ideal King. If we find some leaders sliding into wickedness or advocating policies that are against our conscience, it is our duty to let them know. We have to remember that participating in the law of the land is the duty of every citizen. We should not forget that the law of the land should mirror the greater Law of God.

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