A reflection on Mk 6:30-34
By Br. Errol Salcedo, CJM
In this time of pandemic and financial crisis, one of the vulnerable citizens that needs to be served and guided are the young, sick, and elderly of our society. In this crisis situation, they need someone who can serve and guide them with love and kindness. They need somone who has direction and personally inclined with God in the midst of this trying situation. We need a good shepherd who truely takes care of the flock no matter what will happen.
Our first reading for today reminds all leaders to take care of the flock because if not God will punish their evil deeds and He will appoint shepherds that will take care of the people. “Behold the days are coming when I will raise the righteous shoot to David. As a king, He shall reign and govern the people wisely.” (Jer 23:4-6) True enough, the king that they waited for so long became the real shepherd of the people. He never used his power for his gain and interest but the good of the people. Jesus of Nazareth is the long-awaited servant-leader, who fulfills the promise of justice and righteousness to the people. (Jer 23:6). John the evangelist presents Jesus as the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep and One who lays down His life to his people. (Jn 10:14) Thus, the invitation of the Gospel for Sunday is to follow Jesus, the good shepherd of the flock, by imitating the following qualities.
Know your People. It is important to know your flock and they also know you as their shepherd. I heard from people that one of the unforgettable experiences that they had from their pastor was that he visited them in their homes. They added, “He knows us and he listens to us.” When they meet somewhere, that pastor will laugh and say, “I know you?” even he could not personally remember their names. Jesus himself personally knew his apostles one by one. He was also personally known to them. They knew where he came from and they also knew his mission in life. Thus, they became part of the mission of Jesus and they constantly do His mission even without his presence.
Know their needs. Knowing one’s flock is important but more importantly, is also to know their needs. We cannot sustain the mission and responsibilities without responding to their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It is part and parcel of knowing and shepherding the flock - we should know their needs not just externally but even beyond our senses. Jesus himself personally knows his apostles’ needs after the long and tiring mission. He invited them to go to the secluded place and find time to rest. This is the manifestation of the real shepherd who knows the needs of the flock. He discovered that the people who are following them are “like the sheep without the shepherd.” Thus, His heart was moved with pity and began to teach them with many things.” (Mk 6:34)
Know yourself. It is necessary to know your flock and their needs, but failing to know ourselves and our needs can be the greatest danger of all. Shepherding the people is a gift and a noble responsibility, however, without listening to ourselves and responding to one’s needs can be the source of misconception to the people we serve. Without listening to our needs could be the source of not listening to others’ needs as well. There is no boundary between our needs and the needs of others and it can be dangerous. For instance, we always think about the good of others but we forget to rest and take care of ourselves. This attitude will easily imply forgetting others’ needs as long you do it for others. However, the question is, how can they do it when the servers are parents who need to attend to the needs of their children or the students who need to comply with the requirements at school? The gospel invites us to be like Jesus who personally found the importance of spending time with God and one’s self without setting aside the importance of listening and serving the people. He did it before and after the long and tiring ministries. He went to the secluded place and spend time with God the Father.
Therefore, as much as we need to stay and listen to the needs of our people, the Gospel invites us to the core of our being - what is the reason why we do all these things? When the answer is to follow, love, and serve God better, then we don't have to worry to offer everything we have done and trust in His divine plan for us. We do not have to be afraid of what tomorrow will bring and ask His help and guidance for the times that we are having face to face with our struggles and difficulties.