The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II Wednesday in the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time, 17 August 2022 Ezekiel 34:1-11 ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*> Matthew 20:1-16
God our loving Father, what happened in Israel during Ezekiel's time is happening again, of "shepherds pasturing themselves" (Ezekiel 34:2)!
Send us shepherds, dear Father, who have vision, who seek Jesus our Good Shepherd and not just listen to one's self or with what our "cordon sanitaires" say and whisper to our ears no matter how pleasing or assuring these may be (should we not be more at home with being bothered than pleased, Lord?);give us shepherds who would come out of their comfort zones like that landowner ensuring everyone is doing something; send us shepherds with courage to smash existing structures of dominance and cliques within your Church, drive away the gnostics among us who know only what is good for one's self to let in a breath of fresh air to enliven your flock.
Thank you in calling us to shepherd your flock in different capacities as priests, parents, elder brothers and sisters, superiors, teachers, leaders and managers; but, shepherding is more than "strengthening the weak, healing the sick, binding up the injured, bringing back the strayed and seeking the lost" (cf. Ez. 34:4-5): all these efforts are meant to enable every sheep "to work" - that is, do something good, something that would awaken each one's worth and giftedness as your beloved one like the master of the vineyard in today's gospel:
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn… at nine o-clock… at noon… at three o’clock… and at about five o’clock to hire laborers for his vineyard.”Matthew 20:1, 3, 5, 6
O dear Jesus, forgive us your shepherds, especially us your priests, who have refused to go out literally and figuratively speaking, to look on your flock, to find every sheep and give each one a chance to "work" for you, to do something good like serve others and harness their talents you have given; Oh, please forgive us your shepherds when we feel so entitled knowing everything and being capable of everything that we have refused to stop "working" for you, when we have refused to leave our "work" and made it into an office than a ministry, replacing service with power, simplicity with material comfort, and yes though very sad, we have made your vocation a privilege as we bask in our positions and ranks, refusing to give others the chance to work because we have ceased shepherding, choosing to be herding or worst, lording over others. Amen.