Homily for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Rev. Br. Shane Nicholas, AIHM
We all know the public work of a shepherd protecting the flock from predators and gathering the lost little ones and getting them back into fold. What most don't know is what happens behind the scenes. Here is the rest of the story.
Milking twice a day, treating scrapes, rotating pastures to help with parasites, treating parasites, trimming hoofs to avoid hoof rot and in-grown hoofs, helping to kid, cleaning out the barn, stacking endless 75 pound bales of hay and 50 pound bags of grain, and although it may sound odd, just sitting in the barn or corral being with them, petting on them, talking to them....and the list goes on. All of this is being a good Shepherd.
Last week Bishop Joseph challenged us and reminded us that it was the job of the laity to take peace and reconciliation out into our daily lives.
Today I want to extend that job some.
None of us live in a vacuum. We cannot exist without other people. And no, you are not the center of the universe, the world does not revolve around you. Or me! Being human and being Christian calls us to share our lives, the ups and the downs, with others...it's called community.
We are each of us called to be Christ to one another. So, what does that mean? You are called to be love to each and every person you meet or interact with. We are called to be compassionate, forgiving, and show mercy to everyone. This doesn't mean we are a doormat and allow others to use us. But all that we do must be done with unconditional love. This means that all of us are to help shepherd. Priests and Bishops can minister to those who come for it but you as laity are tasked with helping to tend the flock.
As laity you are charged to help bind up the wounds, be a strong pair if shoulders for those that need to lean on you, be a listening ear when someone needs to talk or vent, having a warm hug and dry shoulders if someone needs to cry, to help with the day to day care of our family....the human family. We are called to love every person, regardless.
The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of what the laity are called to do. Tend the sick and the dying, comfort those in need, feed the hungry, clothe the naked. TO BE CHRIST EVEN TO THE PERSON YOU DON'T KNOW: TO BE LOVE. Paul, in our second reading says: "he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity." It is no longer us and them, you and me. It really is just US.
In our Gospel today Jesus tells the disciples to come away to a deserted place and rest a while. But the people kept coming. Jesus looked out on the huge crowd that gathered around him and had pity saying they were like sheep without a Shepherd. He didn't send them away or ignore them. And although the disciples had just returned from their first mission work, he didn't tell them to go ahead and rest. He set aside his own hunger, his own fatigue, his own needs, because the flock needed tending. And he asked the disciples to do the same. And he again began teaching them.
Today I challenge each of you to assist the Shepherd in tending the flock; to offer your own unique person to person care and compassion. And I want each of you to ponder on this question: How am I called to serve my human family?