Fr. Sanctus Mario
Inspiration and Bible Reflections

To Be A True Shepherd and A True Flock. 16th Sunday Year B


Sunday Breakfast With the Word 16th Sunday Ordinary Time of the Year B


Jeremiah 23:1-6, Ephesians 2:13-18, Mark 6:30-34.



A story was told of a saint who was enrolled to fight for the Roman army. This saint served under the Roman emperor known as Julian the Apostate. At that time, soldiers were respected or I can say greatly respected and feared. They are seen as people in top positions. 


So, while the saint was working for the Roman Army, He was asked to be in charge of Gaul, which is known as France today. 


Legend holds that while the saint was approaching the gate of Amiens City, he met a beggar who was unclad in the middle of the cold environment. Some people said that the beggar was scantily clad but the main point is that He was not fully clothed amid the cold environment.


 When this saint saw the beggar, He pitied him, removed his pride and prestige and cut his military cloak in half and covered the beggar. In the same night, the saint had a dream where Jesus appeared to him wearing the half cloak that he shared with the beggar. And when the saint woke up, he found his cloak restored to wholeness. 


In this story, we see the true mark of a true shepherd. The saint I am talking about is Saint Martin of Tours. 

Saint Martin meets someone in need. Someone who is among the people he is protecting. He places his pride and military position on one side to come to the need of the other person. 


Here, the saint shows us how to be a true shepherd. He exhibits the mark of a true shepherd. The true shepherd places the need and the comfort of His flock first and foremost. This is what we see in the gospel and what was lacking in the first reading. While the flock trusts and responds to the Shepherd. They follow the shepherd wherever he goes.


In today’s readings, we will see the need to be a true shepherd and a true flock. We will see what happens when we shepherd the people handed to our care? We shall answer the questions; Who is the shepherd? Are they the only spiritual and political leaders? What can we do to be a true shepherd and what God expects from us? Let us go into detail as we explain the readings of the day. 




Who Is A Shepherd?


A shepherd tends and rears a sheep. A shepherd is in charge of a Flock. In John 10:11, Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd. And in today’s responsorial psalm, the psalmist affirms that the Lord is the Shepherd. 


Therefore, the Chief Shepherd is the Lord. Hence He appoints leaders and people who are going to take care of His people. The negligence to fulfil this responsibility makes God pronounce woe to the shepherds in the first reading because they have allowed the flock to scatter. 


So, a shepherd is one whom God places in the position to care for souls. The shepherds can be the pope, bishops, priests, presidents and governors of the state. The shepherd can also be the presidents of many organisations both in the church and state. They can be our parents, and can also be you. Wherever you are leading, there are people under your care. God wants you to also take care of those souls. 


Who is The Flock?


The flock then are those who are under a leader. They are led by someone and thus follow His/her leadership instructions and guidelines. 


The Need to Be A True Shepherd.


When I say true Shepherds, I mean the people who truly understand their work and do the needful. There is the need to be a true Shepherd.

In Acts 9, Saul receives orders from the High Priests to go to Damascus. He is warming up to go to Damascus and arrest any Christian he sets His eyes on. On His way to Damascus, Saul encountered a light which shone from heaven and A voice said “Saul Saul why are you persecuting me”. 

Saul was inquisitive to know whose voice is that and Jesus answered ‘I am Jesus who you are persecuting”. Obviously, Saul has not seen Jesus Christ and was not persecuting Him. Saul was persecuting the Christians. But Saul invariably never knows that the flock he is persecuting belongs to God. He never knows he is invariably fighting God. 

Secondly, In the first reading, Through the Prophet Jeremiah, God pronounces woes on the shepherds he appoints to guide the people. 

Jeremiah begins his prophetic career during the reign of King Josiah in the 13th year of his reign. After the death of Josiah, other kings who replaced Him like Jehoiakim, Jehoahaz, Jeconiah and Zedekiah did not take the things of God seriously and none of them had spiritual concern for the people. 

Because of their sins and neglect, some were taken to Babylon as captives, and others went as refugees to Egypt. The sheep became indeed scattered. 

The chief priests and spiritual leaders of the time had no strong voice. This made God proclaim woe to the people and hence promises to appoint shepherds who will take care of His flock.

In John 21, by the sea of Galilee, Jesus asks Peter, Simon son of Jona, do you love me? Peter said “yes Lord You know that I love you” and Jesus said “feed My lambs”. Jesus repeats this three times and then ends with “take care of my sheep”

From these above citations, we have to know that first of all wherever we are and whatever we do, and whoever we are, God made it possible. 

God puts you there for a reason that is best known to Him. The people under you are not your subjects like we think, but God’s people put under your care. 

Therefore, whatever you do and however you lead them, you are not doing it for them, you are invariably doing them for God. 

As a spiritual leader, treat the souls under you first as people of God. As a political leader, feed the souls under your care as the people God has granted you the privilege to be in charge of.

 Do not lord it over the people(Peter 5:3). But lead them as people who God assigned to you. 

There is the need to be a true shepherd because this is what God wants from us and nothing more. We have to be the light for others. 

From the readings and the citations, we can see that God is so much interested in how we shepherd the flock. The flock belongs essentially to Him and not to us. We can carry our duty knowing fully well that in this work, it is God that we serve

As a parent, the children under you are God’s gifts to you. Psalm 127:3 says that every child is a gift from the Lord and any offspring a blessing. 

The children that you have are God’s gift to you. Shepherd them like gifts that come from God. Do not allow them to wander away in the darkness. If every leader and every parent should understand that what they are, are just privileges and not right and if we can understand that who we are leading belongs to God and not essentially to us, we will shepherd with care and feed the sheep as much as we can. This is the Lord’s work and not essentially our work. 




What God expects from the Shepherds.




In the first reading, We hear God says “woe to the Shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture” Then he says “You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them but I will take care and punish your evil deeds”.

 In this statement, we see what God expects from the shepherds. They are:

1.God expects the leaders not to mislead the people. Therefore He expects them to constantly lead them to the knowledge of the truth. He expects them to touch their lives and inspire them to seek salvation. 

God does not want those He appoints to make His flock sin against Him. In Matthew 18:6, Jesus says that whoever causes any of these little ones to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and be drowned into the depths of the sea”. This shows that God has great concern for those souls that He puts under our care.

2. He expects the leaders to make efforts in bringing back lost souls. We should not keep quiet and allow people to lose faith in God. We should try everything within our means to seek for the lost. He gives this example in Matthew 18:10-14 with the parable of the lost sheep. 

In this parable, the Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine others to search for the one that is lost. That means that to be true a shepherd is also to be ready to search and seek to bring back lost souls. 


God was angry with the shepherds in the first reading because they allowed the flock to scatter, therefore, He would be happy to see the Shepherds make serious efforts to bring these souls back. We can see this in the first reading when He says “I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they no longer need fear and tremble and none shall be missing”. So God does not want anyone to miss.

Therefore as political, spiritual, material, academic, family leaders, we should not lead people away from God. We should lead them to God. Hence, we should not allow souls to go astray under our watch. We should make them come together. Like Saint Martin, the comfort of others would be our watchword. 

When we do it with all our hearts, we do them for God. Saint Martins never thought in His life that helping a beggar would bring Jesus to Him. St Paul never knew that persecuting the flock is persecuting Jesus. In the same way, we are yet to understand that when we do this, we do not essentially do them for ourselves but we do them for God.




What Happens When We Do Not Care For the Flock.



In the first reading, we see how God pronounces woe to the leaders. Here, we can have an inkling of what happens when we do not take care of the flock. In that statement from God, we see regrets, pains and wrath. God was not happy with the shepherds. 

Therefore, when we neglect the souls God gives to us when we become the instrument of their damnation rather than their salvation, we invite God’s wrath. God is so much interested in those souls that we lead astray. 

When a political leader thinks He is having an office only for His stomach when a spiritual leader does not care for the souls under him or her when a parent and family leader does not care about the physical and spiritual welfare of the members of His family when we do not care for the flock that God gives to us, we are invariably neglecting God and what He assigns us to do. To do this may bring His wrath on the due day. 




How to Be a True Shepherd.



In the gospel, when the apostles came back from the mission that Jesus sent them. They report all they have done and taught. Jesus then invites them to a deserted place to have a rest and eat. Because people were coming and going, they went off in the boat themselves and drove to a deserted place. 

Immediately people saw them leaving, They hastened there on foot from all towns and arrived at the place before them. When Jesus saw the crowds, I expected Jesus to bash on them. I expected Jesus to tell them to allow Him to rest. Because of the disturbance from the people, the apostles had to move to another side to have a rest and yet they could not. They still faced the same disturbance. I also expected one of the apostles to tell the people to go back. 

People like Peter and Thomas can do that but none of them did. Jesus saw the crowds, and forgot that they wanted to eat, he forgot that His apostles needed a rest, He pitied the crowd because they were like sheep without a shepherd. 

Jesus begins to teach them. Here we see the fulfilment of what was said in the first reading “I will raise a righteous shoot to David, he shall do what is right in the land”. 

Here, we see Jesus doing what is right. We see Jesus showing us the true example of what it means to be a true leader.

 In the gospel we see Jesus doing what St Martin did, putting the needs and comfort of the people above His own. 

Therefore, A true leader must have a heart of compassion. A true leader needs to understand the people who are under Him. He must shepherd the flock with love, understanding and tolerance. These three keys are what Jesus teaches us today. 




How to be A True Flock.



One question I would like to ask today in the gospel is “How did the people know where Jesus and the apostles are going, to the extent that they even went there before them? 

There was nowhere in the gospel, Jesus told them where they were going. How could they have known? 

My conclusion here is that these people have been following Jesus around and may have known the places He goes, the places He prays, and the places they go to rest. The apostles may have used a particular desert as a place for their rest, and these people know exactly the place. This is the reason they even went there before Jesus and His apostles would come. 

Therefore, a true flock understands and knows what the shepherd wants and does it. A true flock is always close to the shepherd. He understands what the family wants, he understands what the priest and the parish want. The true flock knows the objectives His leader is aiming to achieve and He is always there to make it happen.

2. Secondly we do not blame the crowd for following Jesus around. For someone to follow another, there must be something he or she aims which is either spiritually or physically. 

The crowd keeps on following Jesus because they know what they gain by following Him. Therefore a true flock does not give up on following God. They help their family, they help their church, they help their community. The true flock supports the community, parish state, etc with their availability and openness to help. 

3. Thirdly, we can see that in the gospel, Jesus takes time to teach the crowd. They listen to HIm. The true flock does not bring trouble to their leaders or organisation but one who is always ready to listen and do the needful. Therefore if we are also a true flock, we have to understand our leaders and help them as much as we can. We need also to be open to work and become available when we are needed.





1. We have to allow ourselves to truly belong to the flock of God. Many people have their sentiments and arguments about the church. Some do what they think is right. The church is there to guide us.

 Like the crowd were listening to Jesus, we have also to listen to the church and do whatever she tells us to do. When Jesus calls the people, He teaches them many things. So the question is “are we ready to learn? From whom do we seek the truth? 



2. For Jesus to call the apostles to have a rest shows that we must devote the time we need to have a rest from our daily work. 

Rest is necessary. It is not only a time of physical rejuvenation but a time of our spiritual rejuvenation. It is time to go in-depth and ask ourselves serious questions. 

The time of rest is the time to retreat and think about our lives. The responsorial psalm says that besides the restful waters, God refreshes His soul. So, the time of rest is also a time of spiritual refreshment.



3. When you read the responsorial psalm we see the work of the true shepherd. The lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want that means ‘Like the Lord, we have to be there always seeking to satisfy the physical and spiritual needs of the flock God gives to our care. We should place their needs above ours.

Like Saint Martin of Tours, we shall place our pride and prestige below and be there with the people. Like Jesus, we have to understand them and take time to teach and direct them in the proper way.

The psalmist also says: he guides me on the right path. Therefore we should guide others to the right path. As a leader, do not mislead your flock. As a parent do not mislead your children, Then as a Christian never mislead those souls you encounter daily. They need salvation, they need help. So, always be there for them. 

The rod and staff mentioned in the responsorial psalm are symbols of protection and leadership. Therefore, we live to guide and protect the faith of those under our care. Never mislead a soul. 



4. Then the question today is how do we gather and lead our flock? Many political leaders are only interested in their stomachs. Many of us who are in charge of souls do not have time for them. The question for us today is “are we working for ourselves or are we truly working for God?

 If we are working for God, the burning desire to do the lord’s work must not be lacking. Our political leaders need to take their work as God’s work and lead people with love. Selfless service to the people should be the watchword.



5. From the gospel today, we can see that Jesus made Himself available in responding to the needs of others. He cared for their lives and welfare more than anything. 

In the same way, we have to care for others. We serve God in different capacities, as lawyers, medical personnel, businessmen, etc. God appoints them not necessary for your gain but to save a life. 

Now the question today is “do we lead to save lives? Do we bring souls to God through what we do or do we intimidate them? Do we scatter or are we gathering? Have we one day spent time thinking about how to bring people back to God? What is truly the motivation behind whatever we do? 



6. Let us always remember that we are all members of the flock of God. Whatever we do and however we do them, we do them for God and not for the people. On the last day, we will give an account of our stewardship. 

May God give us the strength and grace to be true shepherds. May He never forsake us in our earthly journey. Amen. 


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  1. Golu Chetachukwu Angela says

    This is too gooood! Thanks so much fr, for this beautiful reflection. May the Lord grant us his unfailing graces in either ways we’re being called (Shepherd/flock) to bear witness to him. More grace and insights, ❤️


    May God grant us His grace to be good leaders in various fields and also good fellowers to our Shepherds especially the shepherds of the Holy Mother Church, amen.

    Thank you Father for this wonderful Breakfast, remain blessed. HAPPY SUNDAY!

  3. Miriam kyaa says

    Beautiful and very precise… Great reflection for soul digest. God bless you padre.

  4. Bibiana Uche Unachukwu says

    Amen and happy Sunday Fr

  5. Mary says


  6. Ozoegwu Onyinye Clare Okoro says

    Amen 🙏
    Thank you Fr.

  7. Ugwumgbor Odinaka says


  8. Dr Nicholas Onyia A. says

    Amen and amen.

  9. Ekwem Emmanuela says

    Amen. God bless you Fr. Pray for more wisdom and grace upon you🙏

  10. Chinyere Ezemelue says

    A true follower becomes a true leader.

  11. Chinyere Ezemelue says

    A true follower becomes a true shepherd

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