Feast of St. Bernard, Abbot
Ezekiel 34: 1-11
In today’s first reading, Ezekiel is mandated by God to speak a word of judgment against the spiritual leaders of his time. Ezekiel tells these spiritual leaders that their task is to Shepherd God’s people (the sheep). Ezekiel condemns them because though "you have fed of their milk, worn their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings," you have not pastured the sheep.
What does it mean to "pasture the sheep"? Ezekiel describes it this way, "You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost…." And so, they are condemned!
Once again, in this morning’s reading from Ezekiel, we hear that God wants those who believe in Him, to reach out with compassion and generosity to the sick and the injured, to the lost and the wounded. How many times have we heard that message?! Yet, most of us know how difficult that is. It’s easy to be so engaged in our own struggles, so lost in our own personal world, that we not only don’t reach out to those around us, we often don’t even notice them and their needs.
Today, we pray for the grace to see those in our lives who are lost or injured and we ask God to give us the courage to reach out to them with God’s love and ours.
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. is the director of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.