Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 (NRSV)
Verse 11For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. Verse 12As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. Verse 13I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. Verse 14I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. Verse 15I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. Verse 16I 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. Verse 20Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Verse 21Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, Verse 22I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. Verse 23I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. Verse 24And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.
God is both tenacious and relentless. God will neither abandon nor forsake. God will search, seek, rescue, bring, gather, feed. God will seek the lost, bring back the stray, bind up the injured, strengthen the weak. Surely that is good news for the wayward, wandering, wounded, and weak. And it is most assuredly good news for the sheep of God’s own flock—for us! But there also comes a prophetic warning: God will judge those who trample on the needy. Sometimes we need to be reminded that God desires to shepherd us through times of plenty and times of want, times of joy and times of sorrow, but God also desires us to care for the needy. We often forget how truly blessed we are and yet, like our ancestors in faith of ages past, God continues to shower us with abundant blessings desiring that we, in turn, will be a blessing to others.
God, our Shepherd, forgive us when we neglect to care for our neighbors in need. As sheep of your fold, let your Spirit work in us that which is well-pleasing in your sight. Amen.