Homily on the readings for Dec. 4, Saturday of the I week of Advent
The Holy Spirit through the prophet Isaiah promises to provide “on that day” for all the needs of the people, giving them guidance and sustenance and light. The day the prophet speaks of is the coming of the Messiah and of the Kingdom of God.
The Incarnation is the beginning of the process of fulfillment of this prophecy; Christ our Guide became a baby in Mary’s womb, and the people of Israel first saw Him with their own eyes on Christmas. But the Gospel reading tells us something that would startle us if we were not accustomed to it: we are a part of the fulfillment of that prophecy; not just as recipients of the promise, but as active agents of God to bring it to pass.
Jesus Himself is the Good Shepherd, but He also names His Apostles to participate in the mission of guiding, healing, and watching over the people of God. He also encourages all His disciples to pray for more “laborers for the harvest”, more people chosen by God to be shepherds. We, the flock, still need shepherds; we still need to pray – and the role of shepherd devolves on us all in varying degrees. The pope, bishops, priests and deacons all have a special call to tend to the well-being of God’s children, but all of the faithful are called to care for each other.
So as we prepare to celebrate the coming of the Good Shepherd, let us pray to God the Father for all those who participate in the ministry of shepherds in the Church, that we all may fulfill that role with generosity, that young men and women will respond whole-heartedly to the call to dedicate their lives to this mission, and that every Christian may appreciate the honor we have of being chosen by God to be His people, the flock He guides and participants in making His kingdom come.