In the first reading (Ezekiel 34:1-11) at Mass today the Lord tells the prophet Ezekiel to preach against the shepherds of the house of Israel. They are castigated because they selfishly satiate their own needs and desires while failing to care for the flock: “[they] pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep” (Ezekiel 34:8). Of particular note is verse 10:
Thus says the Lord GOD: Look! I am coming against these shepherds. I will take my sheep out of their hand and put a stop to their shepherding my flock, so that these shepherds will no longer pasture them.
The question has to be asked: how does the Lord account my shepherding? If am found wanting, what do I need to change so that the flock receives the pasturing it deserves? Whenever flocks decrease we need to ask these questions. God wants his flock to flourish–that’s why he has the universal salvific will. Unfaithfulness to the Lord and failing to show mercy results in a diminishing of the flock. We must not think this scripture serves only as a warning to priests, though, for each of the baptized are anointed priest, prophet, and king.
May we not fail in the work Christ places before us and may his flock flourish!