Image: Community kitchen, Inuvik
Lots of change but little progress may be the best way to sum up the words of the prophet Hosea in today’s first reading. Hosea is noticing that the people have appointed themselves kings to rule over them but they have forgotten the one true King who brought them out of slavery and gave them a land to call their own. Hosea points out that the people have ample silver and gold but they have used it to make idols when they could have been feeding the poor. This is what happens when a society fails to remember where they come from and where they are headed. If we only focus on our own present desires and comfort, our harvests will soon dry up and our sacrifices become meaningless.
The psalm continues with the theme of the futility of idols. “They have mouths that do not speak; eyes that do not see. They have ears that do not hear; noses that do not smell… Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them.”
If we were to look around at our own culture and society would we be able to point to some of the futility that the prophet is talking about? What about in our own lives, do we place too much value on that which is fleeting and not enough on things that will last forever? These are questions that are worth grappling with if we really want to make sure that we are living a life that is meaningful and holy.
If we look at the life of Jesus, our teacher in the way of holiness, we can examine what it was that he thought was important. He had no home to call his own and instead spent his time on the road teaching about the love of his Father. He spent time with everyone but seemed to prefer the company of those on the margins. He had little interest in the liturgical flair of the Pharisees nor the intellectualism of the scribes. His was a simple life focused on his relationships with people and his care for those in need.
In the gospel today, we hear Jesus’ great concern for the crowds and that he had compassion for them like a shepherd would for his sheep. He did the best he could reaching out to as many as possible but, in the end, it was too much for just one man. Jesus’ plea to those who followed him was that he needed more people to help. More people were needed who would stop chasing after the things that society said was important and instead, focus on the real things that will make our society and its people better.
In our communities there is a similar need and we are just as shorthanded. Our elders, our youth, the lonely, the addicted, the hurt and wounded are all calling out for someone to give them an ear and to hear what they have to say and to let them know that they are not alone.
Look around and see the need. Hear the voice of the shepherd calling you to help tend the sheep. Listen to the Lord of the harvest who is calling you to go out into the field.