20th Week, Wednesday, Aug 19

Ezekiel 34:1-11 / Matthew 20:1-16

You shepherds are doomed: "You take care of yourselves, not your sheep!" 
Fr. Horace McKenna of Washington, D.C., spent much of his life helping the city's poor. Just before he died, he said: "When God lets me into heaven, I think I'll ask to go off in a corner somewhere, sit down, and cry—because the strain is off.
I won't have to worry any longer about who's at the door, whose breadbox is empty, whose baby is sick, and whose children can't read." Unlike the shepherds that Ezekiel talks about in today's reading, Fr. McKenna devoted every waking moment to the flock God had entrusted to his care. He was, indeed, a good shepherd. 
Ezekiel delivers a stinging rebuke to the shepherds of Judah. The political leaders who had been divinely commissioned to lead the people into a deeper knowledge of the God of Sinai and Abraham had used their position to line their own pockets. Because their lives were poured into self-service rather than true service, they fall under Ezekiel's most terrible condemnation. The Lord announces through him that they will be removed. Now God will shepherd His people.

(The phrase is reminiscent of the New Testament theme of the Good Shepherd. Significantly, it is a rejection of the king as the one through whom God's blessing would flow to the people. Ezekiel looks to a time when intermediaries will disappear and God will guide each heart and life into a deeper knowledge of Himself. In that new age, priests will be instruments of the Spirit, who will be directly available to all people. A hierarchy will no longer serve as filters through whom God's Spirit passes to others.)
What kind of a shepherd are we to those God has entrusted to our care? Lord, make shepherds to others in the image and likeness of your Son, Jesus, who was the model for all shepherds. 
One of our human follies is that we have this tendency to be jealous and to envy others. We get jealous at others for getting a better deal than us, or better treatment than us, or simply just because they are better than us.
We get jealous of others instead of rejoicing with them in their good fortune, and we get envious about almost anything.
But if we are able to look at envy and jealousy clearly, then we will also see that we get jealous and envious simply because we are not looking at what we already have.
We look at what others have, and we say that it is not fair because they grass is greener, or so we think.
That was what happened to the workers who worked a full day in the vineyard.
Instead of rejoicing that the last-minute workers who were hired had something to bring back to their families, they resented that they were paid the same amount as them.
Yes, resentment is the product of jealousy and envy.
Let us ask the Lord to heal our resentment and jealousy and envy, so that with generous hearts we will rejoice with the Lord for His gifts and blessings to all of us.
Let us pray: God, you are high above us and get nearer to us than we are to ourselves; you hate evil and yet you give a chance to people who fail; you know us as we are and still you love us. Teach us your surprising ways, that your thoughts may become ours and that we may generously share with those around us all the good gifts and the life you have given us in the generosity of your heart, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. God Bless.