The Gospels tell us that when Jesus saw the vast crowd, His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36, Mark 6:34) If we look back at the Old Testament, there were three prophets who prophesied in regards to how the leaders neglected the people, and how God Himself will shepherd the people.
Jeremiah prophesied to the leaders of Judah: “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the flock of my pasture. 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 and bring them back to their folds; there they shall be fruitful and multiply.” (cf. Jeremiah 23:1-3)
Ezekiel prophesied to the exiles in Babylon: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves! You consumed milk, wore wool, and slaughtered fatlings, but the flock you did not pasture. You ruled them harshly and brutally. So, they were scattered for lack of a shepherd. Therefore, I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest. The lost I will search out, the strays I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, and the sick I will heal.” (cf. Ezekiel 34:2-5, 15-16)
Zechariah prophesied against the false prophets: “For the teraphim (false gods) have spoken nonsense, the diviners have seen false visions; deceitful dreams they have told, empty comfort they have offered. This is why they wandered like sheep, wretched, for they have no shepherd. My wrath is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders. For the LORD of hosts attends to the flock, the house of Judah, and will make them like a splendid horse in battle.” (cf. Zechariah 10:2-3)
The Gospels reveal that Jesus fulfilled these prophecies by becoming Himself the Good Shepherd of the new Israel. Unlike the bad shepherds of Israel, Jesus strengthened the weak and healed the sick; He drove out demons; He sought out the lost and brought them back. Ultimately, Jesus laid down His life for His sheep.
So many people sought out Jesus then; so many people still seek out Jesus now.
These words of Christ resonate in the hearts of those who seek healing and deliverance: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Even today, miracles happen and some are granted healing and deliverance of their sufferings. But what about the rest of us who continue to pray and wait?
Living in faith does not guarantee the elimination of suffering. Jesus Christ said to His disciples: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23) Instead of eliminating the suffering for most people today, Jesus does something greater – He gives us consolation. For Christians, consolation is the joy that enfolds suffering and blossoms from it. Despite their continued suffering, many Christians have experienced the gift of divine consolation, and they can say: I am consoled in Christ by the Holy Spirit.
Divine consolation is not magic; it is not acquired by saying particular prayers. Rather, it comes about by loving God and knowing that you are loved by God, and by trusting in God and putting things in God’s hands. Thomas a Kempis in The Imitation of Christ wrote: “LOVE lightens all that is burdensome, and it bears equally all that is unequal. LOVE turns bitterness into sweetness; weariness into rest; fear into serenity.” Divine consolation does not take away suffering, but it brings inner joy and peace.
- Tai-chi and Cultural Dance classes will take a break for today only, July 18, 2021, so that volunteers can use the Social Hall to sort out all the items for the Garage Sale.
- Reminder: The Student’s Summer Workshop will be held today, July 18, 2021, from 11:30am to 12:30am in the Nursery room.
- Reminder: Garage Sale will be next Saturday, July 24 from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. If you want to help for an hour or two, you can still register with Angela Lau.