This coming Sunday is Word of God Sunday when the Catholic Church celebrates the great gift of the Bible. We celebrate the stories from the Old Testament like the one this morning from the Prophet Ezekiel as well as our Gospel from St. Luke. But more importantly we celebrate that all these stories are one unified story that all lead to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Two of the names by which we know Jesus because of these stories are “the Good Shepherd” and “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” At first glance it might seem that you couldn’t have two more diverse names: shepherd and king – they are just so different. The shepherd is a working guy in the fields and the king is a big boss with all the privileges and comforts. But for the people of Israel, the king had the job of shepherd.
Do you remember some of the important people of the Old Testament? Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Sampson, and Samuel? None of them were kings. So how did Israel even get a king? Well, it happened like this: one day the people went to the judge and prophet Samuel and said they didn’t think God was taking very good care of them (…they kinda’ ignored their continued disobedience and worship of other gods) and they wanted Samuel to ask God to give them a human king to rule over them. God warned them to be careful what they asked for, but the people insisted they wanted a king.
So, God gave them a king and told the king he had only one job: to be a shepherd to the people, to treat them like they were his own flock – to seek out the lost and always keep them close to God. That’s why I said earlier that for the people of Israel, the king had the job of shepherd.
Other than King David and King Josiah, they were terrible at the job. They took advantage of the people, waged war, worshiped false gods and were themselves bad sinners.
And that is why the Prophet Ezekiel, in the first reading, tells us that God promised that He himself would come and be the good shepherd. The good shepherd who always searches for the lost sheep to bring him back to the flock, close to the loving protection of God. That promise was fulfilled when God sent His Son, Jesus to be the Good Shepherd and the King of Kings.
God keeps his promises – always. And that is the Good News we celebrate on Word of God Sunday.
Image Credit: individual images from Pexel or Public Domain