Fr Thomas’ Homily for the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Call to be a Shepherd

Ukraine war, like any other war,  is all about dominion over people and territory.  So is the internal conflict in Sudan of which we hear terrible stories of atrocities.  China is accused of using debt trap to expand its control over countries and their trade.  All these cases fall in one category – fight for dominion.  Imperial world of the old was no different.  Roman Empire of Biblical times maintained its superiority by force and intimidation.  In such bleakness, Jewish hope was that a Messiah will come to liberate them from the evil domains.  At the time of Moses,  God made a covenant with Israelites to be his people.  The lived experience of the Israelites at Jesus’ time was far from the security and freedom they initially enjoyed. They craved to be gathered as God’s people once again, like Moses did.  Some enthusiasts from among them fought unsuccessfully the Romans to establish the domain of God.  In this situation, Jesus announces the regathering of the scattered tribes of Israel.

When Jesus says, “they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd”, he was reflecting the aspiration of the Israel for a Messiah, a Saviour.   Then the Gospel goes on to name twelve apostles, called and commissioned by Jesus, to indicate that Our Lord has re-established the People of God.  Nobody is called to take up arms and fight any worldly powers.  God’s domain is re-established through love, compassion and service.  It is like a shepherd tendering his sheep, not like a warrior fighting an evil enemy.

People all over the world are thirsting for God’s rule.  The harvest is rich.  There are plenty of opportunities for you and I to work for God’s domain.  We don’t do it through proselytization, but by serving people in their needs, curing the sick, raising the spirit of those live like dead people, helping the outcasts regain their dignity, and by casting out the evil influences on our brothers and sisters.  We are not talking about any job undertaking for monetary benefit, but voluntary service as a way of life.  You and I, in fact all Christians, are commissioned by the Lord to a life of service so that God’s domain will prevail for all people.