Come Away to a Deserted Place

From the Desk of the Associate Pastor

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the flock of my pasture.”

The Lord is Our Shepherd

These are very strong words coming from the Prophet Jeremiah in our first reading this Sunday. He directed this message mainly to Zedekiah, the King of Judah. Against Jeremiah’s warning, Zedekiah allied himself with the Egyptians and attacked the Babylonians. The result was the siege and capture of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, and the exile of Judah citizens. The flock of Israel was truly scattered as Jeremiah had prophesied.

In our time, there is no shortage of “shepherds” who are causing destruction and scattering of the faithful. Recently there are Catholic religious figures who spread disinformation about the coronavirus and the vaccines. There are those who promote mistrust against Pope Francis, ironically claiming that he himself is the bad shepherd. Unfortunately, with social media and the internet, these false shepherds are able to rapidly spread their claims. All it takes is someone who believes in the claim without checking the facts and forwards it to their family and friends on WhatsApp, Facebook, and other channels.

In the midst of this (dis)information overload, it’s good for us to heed the call of Jesus in today’s Gospel: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.” Get away from all the deafening noises in our world. Spend some time at a retreat center or go camping while enjoying the beauty of God’s creation.

The original Greek word for “deserted place” in the Gospel is érēmos, from which we get the word “hermits” for those who seek to live a solitary life. However, the root of the word does not suggest absolute bareness but “unappropriated territory affording free range for the shepherd and their flocks” (HELPS Word‐Studies).

Perhaps in such a place can we hear more clearly the voice of the True Shepherd, so that we will no longer be easily misled by false shepherds. Then we can go back to our daily life no longer with fear and trembling because we know Christ, the Good Shepherd, is at our side.

Peace and Good, Fr. Sam

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