Sheep Without A Shepherd

The Gospel for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time begins with the apostles returning from their first journey as missionaries. They preached a message of repentance; cast out demons and healed people. Quite an accomplishment for their first attempts. 

No Time For Rest

After the reports of all they had done, Jesus invited them to a deserted place for some rest. This part of Mark’s Gospel doesn’t seem like an easy time for Jesus. Mark is filled with one dramatic event after another. Just before this narrative, John the Baptist had been beheaded and then we read of the Feeding of Five Thousand. It isn’t surprising that Jesus and his disciples needed some time to rest. When he saw the large crowd, “his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus stopped and began to teach them. 

Time For Work

The role of a shepherd is not easy. The days are long and the nights are short. It can be exhausting getting to know each member of the flock and keep track of their comings and goings. It is a big responsibility with joy and rewards but also disappointments when one gets lost or leaves. Finding a shepherd these days is challenging. I am not referring to a man in a brown cloak holding a long cane in his hand. I am referring to the role of priests and pastors, catechists and pastoral workers, volunteers and good people who want to journey out as missionaries, carrying on the work and teachings of Jesus. 


In less than three months, Fr. Urs will leave his flock as he goes out to graze in quieter meadows. We will be sheep without an official shepherd until the end of November. If we stay close together, we will not get lost.