Through Jeremiah (23:1-6), God warns the religious leaders that they will come to a bad end for not being faithful teachers and guides to His people. The Lord himself says that He will gather up the lost remnant of the flock and provide faithful shepherds, promising a “righteous shoot” to “reign and govern wisely” and to “do what is just and right in the land.”
In the gospel (Mk 6:30-34) we find out who that promised shepherd is: Jesus!
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things. (v. 34)
As bad as the Old Testament religious leaders could be, they did not have an exemplar like Jesus. What a wonderful gift it is to be able to look to Christ and His Church for the authentic Way. There are many wonderful priests today that are entirely faithful in their teaching and in their conduct. Do not tire of thanking them for what they do and who they are while encouraging them in their opus Dei.
But for those who “mislead and scatter the flock” by their “evil deeds” may they sincerely repent and have a firm purpose of amendment. For those guilty of civil crimes, may they confess immediately and may the proper authorities be informed. For those who have committed grave sins against the Church and its members, may they confess completely. express true contrition, and accept the appropriate penance, that is, the necessary measures taken for the good of their souls and the souls of those whom they have sinned against or who could be targets in the future. Many lives have been grievously damaged by the sins of those to whom we should look to as examples of holy living (pray for them!). Grave scandal has been caused to the indefectibly holy Church because of the behavior of far too many of its all too defectible members, particularly in the sexual realm.
Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones. (Eph 5:3)
A different sort of harm, potentially affecting many more in the Church, comes from the ordained who are unfaithful to Church teaching, conveying error and/or not confronting sin, thus misleading and scattering the flock. They would do well to remember Jesus’ words regarding the children (of God):
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe [in me] to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. (Mk 9:42; see also Mt 18:6)
Pray for our bishops and priests (and deacons) that they may emulate in every way the Good Shepherd. Implore the Lord, through the intercession of the many wonderful priest saints, that men of good character being called to the priesthood will follow that summons and find true happiness in this life and the next.
And let us not forget the important role of religious sisters and brothers. Here, too, may the faithful orders find that the only crisis in vocations is how to accommodate the multitudes wishing to pursue religious life.