The Challenge of Being a Good Pastor..
Discussion Thought of the Day:
Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the flock of my pasture—oracle of the LORD. 2 Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people: You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.b 3 I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have banished them and bring them back to their folds; there they shall be fruitful and multiply.c 4 I will raise up shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear or be terrified; none shall be missing—oracle of the LORD. NABRE _ Jeremiah 3:1-4
“If there be no bad shepherds,” says Saint Augustine speaking about the good shepherd, “he would not have described the hireling, who sees the wolf and flees. He seeks his own glory, not Christ’s glory. He does not dare to rebuke sinners with freedom of spirit. The wolf catches a sheep by the neck, the devil induces a man to commit adultery. And you are silent and do not rebuke. Then you are a hireling because you have seen the wolf and have fled. Perhaps you might say: ‘No, I’m here, I haven’t fled.’ I answer: ‘You have fled because you have been silent, and you have been silent because you were afraid.’”
16 The holiness of Christ’s Spouse has always been shown—as it can be seen today—by the abundance of good shepherds. But our Christian faith, which teaches us to be simple, does not bid us be simple-minded. There are hirelings who keep silent, and there are hirelings who speak with words which are not those of Christ. That is why, if the Lord allows us to be left in the dark even in little things, if we feel that our faith is not firm, we should go to the good shepherd. He enters by the door as of right. He gives his life for others and wants to be in word and behavior a soul in love. He may be a sinner too, but he trusts always in Christ’s forgiveness and mercy. If your conscience tells you that you have committed a fault—even though it does not appear to be serious or if you are in doubt—go to the sacrament of Penance. Go to the priest who looks after you, who knows how to demand of you a steady faith, refinement of soul, and true Christian fortitude. The Church allows the greatest freedom for confessing to any priest, provided he has the proper faculties; but a conscientious Christian will go—with complete freedom—to the priest he knows is a good shepherd, who can help him to look up again and see once more, on high, the Lord’s star. (1)
It seems a lot of my devotional reading has been about the interior life and caused me to focus on my internal life. My readings this morning are also calling for some self-examination, and the prayers for forgiveness and strength, and prayers for those who like me, shepherd the people of God.
I admit, I wonder how to live up to the words of Jeremiah, whether the people I minister to have been able to overcome the fears or anxieties. I fear the sheep that are being driven away from the church – not just my congregation, and not even the body of congregations mine is part of, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. We spend to much time focusing on division, or drawing lines in the sand, and not enough time in humble prayer. We spend too much time plotting and setting visions, and not enough in selfless service, in building the relationships where people trust us. They need to trust us enough that we can direct them to depend on God, that they drop the barriers and allow God to refine their souls, and that they can run to God’s presence, where the find that He is their rock, their fortress, their sanctuary.
Like every pastor and priest I know, we start out wanting people to have the freedom, the confidence in God that they come to us, so that we can point them to Christ. So often the burdens of ministry stop us from ministering to them. This is our call, the reason we are given the responsibility of preaching the gospel, of teaching people to trust in Christ, and the reason we are the stewards of the mysteries of God.
For those of us, who take the time and begin to examine our ministry, and the life devoted to Christ from which our originates, I would point out some simple words in the middle of St Josemaria’s words. “He gives his life for others and wants to be in word and behavior a soul in love. He may be a sinner too, but he trusts always in Christ’s forgiveness and mercy.” Yes, this is us, we want to be a soul in love. and we gave our lives for others. Yet even as we do, St. Josemaria notes we may be sinners (may be is quite generous) who trusts in Christ’s forgiveness and mercy.
We can shepherd because we know His mercy, we must depend upon it. The gospel we preach, we preach because it means something personally to us. We can guide people to Him, because we’ve been in the valley and overwhelmed by darkness, and yet have seen Him lifted up so that He might draw us to Him.
This is the walk of the shepherd, one who has been shepherded. Pray for us, pray for your priest and your pastor, Ensure they have time to know God’s peace, that they know His love. Encourage them in ways they know theya ren’t just employees, not just servants, but those who care for your soul. AMEN.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria. Christ is Passing By (Kindle Locations 1163-1178). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on June 30, 2016, in Christ is Passing By, Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged apostolate, brokenness, pastors, priests, Shepherds of your soul, Spiritual Father, St. Josemaria Escriva. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.