Eleventh Sunday In Ordinary Time, June 15, 2008

Exodus 19: 2 - 6A

Romans 5: 6 - 11

Matthew 9:26 - 10:8

Explanatory Note
Like God with regard to his People, Jesus is overwhelmed by pity at the sight of the crowds (Hosea 11:8). The compassion of Jesus is like that of a shepherd for his lost sheep. Here we have a fundamental theme of the Old Testament: Israel is presented as a flock led by God and the people given by God as shepherds for his People. These shepherds are not all models, like Moses and David. (Ez 34, 1-31). The people of God has known shepherds that were unworthy of their mission. This is why God promised Israel a Good Shepherd in the Messiah to come. In this selection, Jesus appears as the Shepherd who comes at last to take loving care of his people.

The selection from the book of Exodus proposed for this Sunday presents a God solicitous for the welfare of his people: "I have carried you on eagle's wings to bring you to myself." God came out for his people, freed them, took them to himself and made a Covenant with them.

This is the same care that the Gospel reveals in telling of Jesus' compassion, that of the Good Shepherd for the sheep without a shepherd. Jesus is moved to the depths of his being, with God's tenderness for Israel. But Jesus does not work without associating others to the task. First of all, he asks for prayers that the Father send workers to the mission as he casts a completely positive gaze on the crowds: the harvest is abundant. The people are tired and discouraged, but they hope to find the shepherd who will lead them. Then Jesus sends the missionaries he has chosen. They should cure, purify, expel demons... so many verbs expressing ministries of compassion. But they should also teach and proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom. They should, first of all, take care of the crowd's desire to know God, those who recognize and will recognize in Jesus the fulfillment of the Fathers will to save, the people of divine election, Israel who welcomes the Messiah.

Jesus makes his disciples experience and share his concerns, at the same time placing them before God by the invitation to prayer. The Master takes the lead but expects the disciples to offer him free and disinterested availability. Putting oneself at the Fathers disposition by prayer, entering into Christs care for humanity there is our calling, our Christian vocation today. Our Lord adds: "Freely you have received, so freely give."

So why not take time this week to place ourselves before God in order to recall all that we have received and then, perhaps, ask ourselves what place gratuitous love and service have in our lives. When do we set aside time to receive people freely, without pay or return? How do we try to reach out and help our neighbor with his concerns? How freely do we listen to those close to us, with whom we live?.... In a society based on the imperative of profit, perhaps Christians are called to give witness to the importance of beauty and kindness freely given...


Sr. Sophie Ramond, R.A.