Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.
After thousands of years of controlled breeding sheep cannot survive in the wilderness. They startle at things which do not threaten them and tamely watch as wolves prey upon them. They grow fat with idleness and thick woolen coats which must be sheared in the heat of summer. "Factories on legs," some people call them because they serve our food and clothing industries so well. However, they lack the survival instincts of wild animals and, without a conscientious shepherd, they perish in the wilderness.
Jesus saw the crowd who had followed him into the wilderness, away from the safety of villages and cities, and pitied their helplessness. They were like sheep without a shepherd, There were no shops with bread, no taverns for drink and no shelter for the night. Americans who travel abroad thinking that every amenity they expect at home should be provided for them in Outer Mongolia, who suppose the Italian government will ignore their parties with recreational drugs, who suppose they can tear posters off of walls in North Korea: are like sheep without shepherds. Even the confident driver who supposes the cop will be patient while he reaches for his concealed carry license is not prepared for the indifferent cruelty of our wilderness. While most of us appear well enough in the shopping malls and downtown streets, I see daily the sad results of unfortunate choices in the hospital. Somebody sold a perfectly legal bill of goods to the public and millions of people suffer the predictable consequences. Jesus' immediate response in today's gospel to our plight is an exhortation and an appointment, "...ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. " Recent observers have reminded us that few of our choices are purely rational. We buy everything from candy to cars on impulse; our economy seems to count on irrational, impulse shopping. Rarely are those purchases guided by the Holy Spirit. We ask the Lord to send leaders who will cultivate in our homes and churches the gifts of the Holy Spirit:wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They must have authority to drive out the impulsive spirits of consumerism (which leads to abortion, gun violence and drug addiction) and individualism (which is suicidal.)