Keep Watch Over Yourselves and the Whole Flock

As Jesus Christ, the good shepherd, we are called to take care of one another.

Dear brothers and sisters, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

Paul lived among the presbyters of the church at Ephesus. He fellowshipped with them and taught them the true and unadulterated message of the Gospel. He was a bold witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and faith in God.

As Paul was about to leave them, he thought it wise to summon them and encourage and advise them. He encouraged them to keep watch over themselves and not falter and be able to assume the responsibility as presbyters. Thus, they were to be true to themselves, know the authentic message of the Gospel, and be good examples to the flock (cf 1 Peter 5:3). Not only that, but they were also to watch over the flock of Jesus Christ that had been entrusted to them. We can see ourselves in these presbyters (priests).

Be Good Shepherds

Paul’s advice to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus was principally to be good shepherds. Good shepherds take care of the flock entrusted to them. They lead the flock to the right pasture and feed them. In the context of Paul’s admonition, the presbyters are to be shepherds of God’s Church, leading her and guiding her to where God wants them to be, and feeding her with God’s word. Most importantly, they are to protect the flock from the attack of the enemy, especially the savage wolves.

Be Vigilant and Pray

The activities of these savage wolves, whether external or internal, are dire and vicious. The savage wolves work to destroy the flock. They do this through perverting the truth of the gospel, sowing seeds of discord, peddling false and erroneous teachings and doctrines, undermining the unity of the faithful, and actively working to bring disunity among the flock.

The good shepherd
Illustration of Christ, the Good Shepherd.

Paul charged the presbyters, and indeed every one of us, to be vigilant and watch over the flock. This echoes Peter’s advice to the presbyters, too. “Be vigilant because your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour (1 Pet. 5:8). To be vigilant is to “keep careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.” It is to be awake and alert. It is to be aware of one’s surroundings.

Being aware of the impending danger around the flock is a great attribute of a good shepherd. When one is aware of the impending danger, one is moved to action to avert it. The first and most important action that cannot be over-stressed is prayer.

In the Gospel reading of today, we saw the action of prayer from Jesus Christ. Knowing that He would no longer be in the world and that His apostles were going to be exposed to various dangers, He prayed for them and commended them to God. He prayed for their unity, their resilience, their protection against the Evil One, and for them to remain consecrated in truth.

A Invitation to All

Jesus Christ is our exemplary shepherd. Similarly, when Paul sensed the danger facing his flock (the presbyters), he also prayed for them and commended them to God as a parting gift to them after admonishing them. One would count Paul as a good shepherd following the example of Jesus Christ. Let us follow their example, too.

Therefore, whether as a pastor of souls, leader of a community, or a committed Christian, let us work to take care of the flock. Let us take it as our responsibility and duty to pray for the flock of Jesus Christ, and actively work towards protecting them against ravenous wolves and the Evil One that work for their destruction. We are all called to be good shepherds.

Always remember that Jesus loves you!

[Readings: Acts 20:28-38; John 17:11b-19]

Fr. Sylvanus Amaobi

Fr. Sylvanus Ifeanyi Amaobi is from Nkume in Imo State of Nigeria. He is the second Child of a family of seven, three males and four females to Mr. Sylvanus U. Amaobi and Late Mrs Veronica C. Amaobi. He is the Pastor of St. Cecilia Catholic Church, Claremore Oklahoma in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. Email address: [email protected]. Phone numbers: Office, 9183412343.

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