Thursday after Misericordias Domini
Scripture: Ezekiel 34:1-11 (NKJV)
1 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.”
7 ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 “As I live,” says the Lord God, “surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock”— 9 therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord! 10 Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.”
11 ‘For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.”‘”
The shepherds of Israel are their pastors, those who teach the faith. These shepherds have sinned grievously against their office by using it to feed themselves and ignoring the Lord’s flock. In these verses the Lord gives us an excellent description of the pastor’s duties. The Lord ordains them to strengthen the diseased, to heal the sick, to bind up those that are broken, to bring near what has been driven away, and to seek that which is lost.
Pastors in the Old and New Testaments usually cannot literally strengthen the diseased or heal the sick. These are metaphors for the shepherd’s true work: the cure of souls. The Lord sends shepherds, in both Testaments, to strengthen those who struggle against temptation, to heal those sick with sin by applying the salve of the gospel, to bind with the absolution those who have been broken by the law, to bring near those whom false teachers have driven away, and to seek out those who are unbelieving with the gospel.
Even today, many shepherds feed themselves, their bottom lines, portfolios, and their egos, fleecing Christ’s flock in the process. Most of the time this happens by telling the sheep exactly what their flesh wants to hear.
The Lord promises to shepherd His people Himself. He does this in Christ Jesus. In His ministry Jesus gives all undershepherds an example of the selfless ministry which He requires of them. As Christians, we ought always pray for our pastor, especially that he remain faithful to the Good Shepherd and find joy in the ministry to which Christ has called him.
Dear Lord, give unto Your Church faithful shepherds led by the Good Shepherd. Give to us, Your sheep, ears to hear them and hearts to rejoice in Your ministry through them. Amen.