sexta-feira, 11 de novembro de 2016


When he saw the crowds,
he had compassion on them,
because they were harassed and helpless,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
“The harvest is plentiful
but the workers are few”.
Matthew 9:36-37 (read 9:35-10.8) – NIV

586 years before Christ the Prophet Ezekiel said, "Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?"(34.2) and "My flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock." (v8). Isaiah adds: "They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, they seek their own gain." (56.11) The prophets describe the people as abandoned and exploited by those in power, using the figure of "shepherds" to represent them. This caused much suffering and great despair. There was need for hope. Ezekiel brought a message of hope along with the accusation: "I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.” (34:10).

With Jesus history repeats itself. He "had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" The people were left to their own luck and subjected to neglect and abuse by their governing authorities. There was injustice and deprivation that resulted in all manner of diseases. Like the prophets, Jesus brought hope. With words and concrete actions He faced the evils which afflicted the people.

In chapter 10, Matthew records the specific steps that Jesus took to the situation of "sheep without a shepherd." He chose disciples and sent them as "sheep among wolves" with the difficult mission of resisting the ruling powers of evil. They were sent to go without protection and without resources to the villages where the people were. Jesus did not hide the price they would have to pay to accomplish the mission: persecution by enemies, betrayal by their own family members and being subjected to death.

Today, the vast majority of people continue to be "sheep without a shepherd", abandoned by those in power. Corruption, crime and economic exploitation victimize large segments of our population. The result is the scrapping of the education system, the downgrading of public health care, poverty, unemployment and the system of justice being used against the people to protect those in power from the people. Violence and degradation of life have become the norm.

The challenge has never been greater. We often miss the context of the word harvest. Within its context harvest is the mission to live (incarnate) the values of the Kingdom among the people in a world of greed, exploitation, hate and violence. The harvest (need) is even greater, but the laborers are few.

We take the word harvest out of its context and interpret it to mean the saving of souls. For us, harvest gained another sense: winning followers and expanding churches while ignoring the cruelty which our society promotes. We think God is glorified with songs of praise and intense religiosity. We confuse enthusiastic religious movements with the Kingdom.

We modern disciples avoid confronting evil in the world where it operates. We do everything to not be hated and persecuted. We stay within the flock and are only “sheep among sheep”. Being “sheep among wolves” is sin. As a result we do not represent a threat to anyone. The wolves approve of us because we practice our religion in the safety of temples and leave them free to do evil and enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. The harvest is even greater, but..........


Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

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