In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah tells us about shepherds who mislead and scatter the people and have driven them away. Jeremiah prophesied during the sixth century BC to the people of Judah. who were following false prophets and would soon be exiled to Babylon. Also, the temple in Jerusalem would soon be destroyed. Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet because he prophesied this exile and the destruction of the temple.
But, Jeremiah also prophesied the coming of a new king by saying: "The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land."
The false shepherds which Jeremiah refers to simply told the people what they wanted to hear. We have many false shepherds today including most talk show hosts and newspaper columnists who write articles on family or marriage. Virtually every movie or TV show proposes a view of marriage and family life which is completely different than that taught by Jesus' church. In fact, this warped view of marriage and family life has become the new normal. We expect to see single parent families or two parents of the same sex. And, when we see a traditional family with mother, father and children, we know that the father will be cast as the idiot.
The true model for our marriages is Christ and his church and that for families is the Holy Family. These models provide us with examples of self-giving, self- sacrifice, and self-mastery which brings true happiness.
Fortunately, through the Holy Spirit, we have true shepherds and prophetic teaching in his Church, the body of Christ. And, during the last fifty years, we have heard from some great prophets including Pope Saint John Paul II and Saint Theresa of Calcutta. These shepherds have provided great guidance to us on critical issues including abortion, divorce, marriage, and family.
In his 1981 encyclical Pope John Paul II said: "The family in the modern world, as much as and perhaps more than any other institution, has been beset by the many profound and rapid changes that have affected society and culture. Many families are living this situation in fidelity to those values that constitute the foundation of the institution of the family. Others have become uncertain and bewildered over their role or even doubtful and almost unaware of the ultimate meaning and truth of conjugal and family life."
In her 1985 speech to the United Nations, Mother Teresa said: "Today I feel that abortion has become the greatest destroyer of peace. We are not afraid, the mother is not afraid to commit that terrible murder. If we are sincere in our hearts that we really want peace, today, let us make that strong resolution that in our countries, in our cities, we will not allow a single child to feel unwanted, to feel unloved, to a throw-away society."
Our country is divided and the major cause of this division is abortion. This division will only be ended when the shepherds leading our families become models of sacrifice instead of selfishness. As long as our families are selfish and its members focus on themselves rather than their neighbor, our nation will continue to enact laws which promote selfishness over sacrifice.
Which shepherds are we listening to? Unfortunately, the teaching of the false shepherds can drown out the truth as proclaimed by Christ's church. Many of us, maybe even most of us, at times listen to these false shepherds. It is difficult not to listen. They are all around us. There is a continual barrage of false teachings on TV, radio, movies, and the internet. And yet, when we hear these voices often something will stir deep inside us which tells us that this is a lie and it won't lead us toward the peace that Jesus wants for each of us.
In the Gospel, the king Jeremiah refers to, Jesus, the shoot of David, is moved with pity for the people because they are like sheep without a shepherd. Then, Jesus, the true shepherd, teaches them. He is moved with pity for us today. He teaches us today through His church. He understands how difficult it is to turn away from the attractive lies of the evil one. He understands the pressure on us to follow the crowd. He knows how confusing at times life can be for us. He knows that some of our friends and our family members have turned away from his Church, his shepherds. Jesus looks at us with mercy and love, always ready to receive us back and forgive us. Follow him, the true shepherd. Hear the shepherds of His church proclaim the fullness of the truth. These true shepherds will bring you everlasting peace and joy.