Eze 34:20-24 Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken.
Fat sheep and lean sheep? Ezekiel refers to sheep that have “pushed with flank and shoulder”. These are the sheep that, using their horns, “butted at all the weak animals” so that they scattered while the strong ate their fill. Some get fat because they have more than they need, while other starve and weaken because they never get access to nourishment.
Some might reply and call this the “survival of the fittest”. This is monopoly capitalism, and is the dominant financial system of our world: some survive, and some do not. Ezekiel reminds us that this is not God’s way. “I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep”.
This image haunts me right now. Because there are clearly “fat” nations and “thin” nations. Some dominate others with impunity – because they have fattened themselves enough to push the weak aside. There are also “fat” multinational corporations that crush those who cannot compete. And there are big individuals who trample all over smaller individuals in order to get ahead. In the process human beings starve, and shrivel, and generally struggle for life. I am convinced that there are enough resources for all of us on this planet – if only the fat were prepared to share with the thin. Ezekiel reminds us that this will change: “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice..”.
This one question remains: where do we stand? Are we part of the herd that pushes and shoves the weaker aside … or are we willing to stand up to the bullies of this world by supporting the injured and protecting the weak?
Fourth Sunday of EasterThe Good Shepherd
Scripture reading taken from A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p.160