"Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the sheep of my flock!" says the Lord. So important are the leaders, if they are of the church, the nations, organizations, corporations or families. There are leaders who are good and others who are bad or inadequate. In our church some bishops and priests have not led the church well and have allowed abuses, or bad use of their authority or of the church’s money. They have not served as good shepherds. Jeremiah wrote that God was going to send shepherds who pasture their sheep, and from David’s branch would come a just and prudent king with the name of "The Lord is our Justice." When this King came in the person of Jesus Christ, He was a person of compassion, prayer, commitment, fidelity and peace. When the apostles returned from their first mission enthusiastic for what they did and taught, Jesus wanted to teach them the truth — what they had done was through God’s power, not through their power. Jesus wanted for them to be apart to communicate with God in prayer, thus forming a firm base in God, from where they could serve the others. How many times Jesus taught them how to be shepherds through his own example of prayer and action. Prayer helps us to recognize who we really are and from where we receive the strength; it makes us more humble.
The people looked for Jesus and He responded with compassion, teaching them, taking time for them and giving himself to the people, being in this way a good leader. Jesus did the miracle of the multiplication of the breads and fishes to give to eat to more than 5,000 people – a miracle that some wanted him to repeat. They looked for the gift (bread), but not for the donor (Christ). In the story of the Kings, Elisha had shared the bread without thinking about the possibility that he would be in need. He put his faith in God, knowing that there would be sufficient for all. Sometimes it is a problem for us; we are not so generous because we think more about ourselves, saving for our needs, without thinking about the needs of others. Jesus gave in abundance to the 5,000 hungry people, and since then he has given to billions more through his Word and his own Body and Blood. What Jesus asked from the people that had received the bread and what he asks from us is to do the work of God and believe in Jesus Christ. Jesus, the envoy, is the bread that gives life to the world! Think about it: What would be our life without Jesus Christ?
Do we believe that those who go to Jesus will not have hunger and those who believe in Jesus never be thirsty? It is Jesus who feeds us through the sacrament of the Eucharist; it is Jesus who feeds us through his teaching and his Word, it is Jesus who gives us to drink through his example of life and through our baptism and in following Him. Yes, we can buy bread and it will help physically, but through our knowledge and following of Jesus and our total participation in the Eucharist we receive a spiritual food that will give us a reason to live and sustenance for our life. Jesus said that "who eats this bread (Jesus Christ) will live forever". Do we really know him, communicate with him, listen to his Word, and do we have a firm faith in Him? During his life Jesus taught and gave a good example to his disciples and to us of how to be shepherds and he continues giving the means to realize it as father or mother of a family, as evangelizer in the Church, as employee, as head of an organization, or as leader of the Church. We can see that Pope Francis with very good will tries to be a good shepherd, leading the Church and others in the world to recognize with compassion and to help the needy who are: the Earth that is so mistreated, those who live in poverty, and those who don’t know Jesus Christ. Have the person of the good shepherd, Jesus Christ, and his teaching been for you bread so that you can live your life more fully and not so egoistically as a Christian and leader in your own environment?
Sister Schwenzer, RSM, is pastoral minister for Hispanics in Wayne, Ontario, Yates and Seneca counties.