Ezekiel 34:1 The word of the LORD came to me:
Eze 34:2 Mortal, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel: prophesy, and say to them--to the shepherds: Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. 4 You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and scattered, they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep were scattered, they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill; my sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with no one to search or seek for them. 7 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8 As I live, says the Lord GOD, because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild animals, since there was no shepherd; and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep; 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10 Thus says the Lord GOD, I am against the shepherds; and I will demand my sheep at their hand, and put a stop to their feeding the sheep; no longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, so that they may not be food for them.
Ezekiel speaks to the chaos that was left after the Babylonians had invaded Judah and carried off their leaders. Ezekiel castigates the leaders for being too busy enriching themselves to pay attention to the people. These are shepherds who failed their flocks. But God is not blind to this, and Ezekiel says that God will no longer rely on these shepherds. Instead, God sends a new kind of shepherd. Advent marks the birth of Jesus – one who cames with love and compassion for the lost sheep.
May this Advent season be a time when we who are lost are found by the Shepherd; and those of us who know the Shepherd learn to follow more closely in his footsteps.
Jesu, Shepherd of the sheep
Pity my unsettled soul
Guide, and nourish me, and keep
Til thy love shall make me whole;
Give me perfect soundness, give
Make me steadfastly believe.
Charles Wesley Hymns and Poems 1749
Third Sunday in Advent
3.The Coming of Christ
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 26.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.