‘None shall be missing’

By | July 8, 2009

 

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Fr. Mark Vander Steeg

Our Creator desires us to live the fullness of all that he created us to be and delights when we function well. Mindful of this, there is a sadness then in the fall of humanity through our ancient ancestors, Adam and Eve. This fall caused humanity, which is the pinnacle of God’s creation, to be limited in its ability to be fully alive as intended without the help of God.

We were created in God’s image and likeness and are only truly happy when we mirror it. Our ancestors chose not to mirror him in the original, misguided choice of sin and thus we all experience disorder and death. Yet God, like any patient craftsman, rather than abandoning his creation, carefully works to restore it to what he intended it to become. We see this played out through the history of the Israelites. God works through them to bring us back and then culminates this intervention with his own arrival on the scene in the person of Jesus.

Leading up to Christ, God used the Israelite prophets and kings to teach and guide the people back to him. Unfortunately this entrusted role of shepherding God’s people back was not always carried out. “Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the Lord,” writes Jeremiah in the first reading. God promises however that, “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock … and bring them back … and none shall be missing.”

God fulfills this promise to shepherd us himself in Jesus of Nazareth, who is God made man. This is evident in the Gospel of Mark, which records that, “When (Jesus) disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”

Not only would he teach them of the purpose and destiny of their existence but he would also provide the way for them all to achieve it, through his own death and resurrection.

This guiding, crafting, shepherding and providing access to the Father continues now and comes to us through his risen body, the church. Through the church, and through all who speak in union with it, God is fulfilling for all ages the promise he made through Jeremiah, “I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; and none shall be missing, says the Lord.”

In the end, the final pasture for the sheep is of course life with God in heaven. It is only there that the restoration begun in baptism, fostered in reconciliation and already tasted in the Eucharist will be complete.

Questions for Reflection

1. What in my life is blocking the craftsman’s work in me?

2. Who, through my life activity, is God seeking to shepherd back to himself?

3. Do I take time away with the Lord to be formed by him?

 

Fr. Vander Steeg is pastor of St. Mary Parish, Greenville, and St. Edward Parish, Mackville.

 

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