The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

Saint Agnes School | Contact Us

14th Week in Ordinary Time

Date: 
Tue, 07/07/2015
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

I come from a large family.  In a 13 year span my mother had 9 children—no twins.
I once asked mom how she managed to look after all of us
while taking care of the babies, tending to mounds of laundry, and providing three meals a day.
She said “you looked after one another.  The older ones looked after the younger ones.”
Imagine if each one of us demanded from mom her attention, her care, her refereeing
every time a skirmish disrupted the peace, or a need arose.
Diapers wouldn’t have gotten changed, we’d have nothing but dirty clothes to wear,
and we’d always be hungry.
 
Jesus observes the crowds.  They are like sheep without a shepherd.
Two things come to mind with how this has been understood and applied in the Church.
An actual shepherd looks after the needs of all the sheep;
sheep are too dumb to look after many of their own needs…except maybe eating.
And surely they can’t look after the needs of fellow sheep.
 
The community of believers is made up of human beings who are sentient.
We are intelligent.  We have the capacity for self-awareness and self-care.
We also have the capacity for compassion and mercy.
We can, to a great degree, look after ourselves and look out for one another.
Yes, we need spiritual leadership; someone to give direction, to unify us,
to correct us, someone to make important community decisions.
For members of the community to see a need in a neighbor,
one that doesn’t require the attention of the “shepherd”, and say “it’s not my job….”
to do this is a failure in Christian charity.
All Christians are responsible for the good of the community, not just the shepherd.
 
A second observation:  the shepherds of the community are chosen from among the sheep.
Some members of the community choose other members of the community to lead them.
We must never cease praying that God will raise up men and women
who are wise, convicted, visionary, mature, educated, compassionate, merciful, reliable;
men and women who have learned from experience, are willing to get their hands dirty,
who lead by example, appreciate and respect diversity, who are transparent and not secretive,
who are willing to take responsibility for their decisions, who understand human nature,
who are inclusive and not exclusive, who do not put themselves above but among;
men and women who are faithful in following Christ.
I say men and women because leadership roles in the church are not all restricted to priests.
Religious houses, convents, monasteries, hospitals, schools, orphanages, organizations, programs, committees, families, businesses, day-care centers, ministries to the poor,
can have and do have women shepherds.
 
Shepherds aren’t special: better, above, greater, superior, perfect, irreplaceable, faultless.
They are important.  And because of the qualities they have,
because of the gifts they have received from God
they can be exceptional, noteworthy, distinguished, unique, charismatic, holy.
The appointed religious leaders of Jesus' time failed at being responsible shepherds.
 
“Provide for us, O Lord, good shepherds and good sheep.”