In the first reading today, the Prophet Jeremiah warns those who were leading the people astray. “Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, say the Lord.” Jeremiah lived in a tough time for Judea, the southern kingdom. Israel, the northern kingdom had been destroyed by Assyria and Judea stood alone as the country of God’s Chosen People. However, they too were worshiping false Gods and Jeremiah, one of the Old Testament major prophets, warned of what would happen. He warned the people against the false prophets who were worshiping false gods. Unfortunately for Judea the people did not listen and they too were overtaken by Babylon in 587BC.
In spite of this tragedy, God did not leave the people alone or abandon them. Jeremiah has a message of hope included in the reading today; “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David…” We can learn from history what happens when we abandon God and place our faith in things of this world. God, a gracious and loving God, provides for us and has given us laws to live by for our own good. But all too often we rebel against these laws and we find ourselves lost, seeking inner peace but unable to find it because we are void of the truth, God.
Mark’s Gospel message today recalls the return of the Apostles from their mission. They reported to Jesus all the mighty works they had done, through the power of Jesus. Jesus, knowing they needed rest, tries to lead them to a deserted place, but once again the crowd, longing to be with the Master, finds them and they have no time for rest. The Gospel writer describes the people as being like sheep without a shepherd.
We see in Jesus someone who hold the truth within and is generous in sharing it. People seek Him because He models His Father. Jesus has an inner peace everyone longs for. I know people who possess this peace and they too are generous in sharing it. I’ll bet you know someone like this too.
We live in a world that hungers for peace, the inner peace only God can provide. However, this world seems to seek this gift in worldly things, possessions, power, fame. We, like the people of the time of Jeremiah the Prophet, have many false prophets trying to lead us astray, away from God, so beware. Some of the false prophets today work within our own Church! We received a subscription to the National Catholic Reporter as a Christmas gift. I have been shocked at the content of this “Catholic” newspaper and would not recommend anyone to support or purchase this paper. It is truly unfortunate these false shepherds have a voice in our world. The truth lies in the teachings of the Catholic Church, in those who teach the orthodox teachings, not their own version of the “truth”. So be careful how you form your conscience, using God’s message, not that of the world!