Pursuing All Sinners

July 18, 2021   Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Lectionary: 107)

Reading I   Jer 23:1-6
Woe to the shepherds
who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture,
says the LORD.
Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,
against the shepherds who shepherd my people:
You have scattered my sheep and driven them away.
You have not cared for them,
but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.
I myself will gather the remnant of my flock
from all the lands to which I have driven them
and bring them back to their meadow;
there they shall increase and multiply.
I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them
so that they need no longer fear and tremble;
and none shall be missing, says the LORD.

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David;
as king he shall reign and govern wisely,
he shall do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah shall be saved,
Israel shall dwell in security.
This is the name they give him:
“The LORD our justice.”

Responsorial Psalm   Ps 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Reading II   Eph 2:13-18
Brothers and sisters:
In Christ Jesus you who once were far off
have become near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace, he who made both one
and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh,
abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims,
that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two,
thus establishing peace,
and might reconcile both with God,
in one body, through the cross,
putting that enmity to death by it.
He came and preached peace to you who were far off
and peace to those who were near,
for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Alleluia  Jn 10:27
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   Mk 6:30-34
The apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.

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.

By Mary Susan Delagrange 

The Good Shepherd brings me a sense of comfort and safety. It’s a cozy feeling, thinking about the truth that no matter where I wander, he’s there protecting and guiding me. I cannot slip past his notice or fly under his radar. He is present, seeking after my heart with a longing I will never fully comprehend this side of heaven.

But the Good Shepherd isn’t looking out only for me.

Jesus came for all sinners. While it’s foundational to our faith, this truth is so often slapped on bumper stickers and thrown around in a pithy manner that I find it all too easy to dismiss the real implications of such a statement.

Jesus came for all sinners. All.

He actively seeks and pursues those whom I reject and neglect.

He calls each one by name: the people I objectify, the ones I blow off, those who force me to look at uncomfortable truths about myself. The Shepherd’s heart is moved for that guy at Walmart that I found to be so creepy. He notices that woman whose Instagram account I’m jealous of, is present to her in her successes and weaknesses.

He desperately loves those people parading a lifestyle I cannot understand and in every bit of this I see how far away I really am and how deeply I need him to seek me, too.

When I think about the things that cause my heart to wander, I see a path paved with judgment, jealousy, apathy, and elective blindness.

These sins feel insurmountable but there’s peace in the knowledge that his heart is moved for mine. I matter to him deeply; his Sacred Heart burns and bleeds, throbbing for love of me. And you. And them. All of us.

Each of us is the beloved one of the creator, worthy of pursuit at all costs. If I can see that in myself, it’s easier to recognize it in others. When I recognize my own belovedness, I’m better able to pray for the grace to speak belovedness over the people I encounter, not in a vain attempt to mold them into some version of perfect humanity I idealize, but to remind them of the one who pursues them at every moment.

He seeks after me not because I’m perfect or particularly remarkable, but simply because I am in need of a Savior and worthy of saving.

Precious Lord Jesus, I trust that you are seeking after my heart. Right where I am, in this very moment, with all my imperfections and failings, still you draw near to me. Open my eyes where they are blind, my ears where they are deafened, soften my hardened heart that I might see, hear, and love your people with the spirit of a shepherd. Amen.


Mary Susan Delagrange is a birth doula and homeschooling mom of four, happily married to her chef husband. A native Texan living in Ohio, she spends her days dreaming of real Mexican food, journaling, drinking too much coffee, and escaping to run in the woods whenever she gets the chance. She loves Henri Nouwen, Fred Rogers, and sunshine. You can find out more about her here

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