It was a common sight on the hills of Palestine to see men looking after sheep-and still until now. There is a close connection between shepherd and sheep. The shepherd will risk his life if his sheep were in danger of being exposed to attacks of the wild beasts or thieves. The shepherd would sleep with his sheep. He would call each one be name. The relationship was quite phenomenal.
The shepherd imagery is very common throughout scripture. The title of shepherd was a term used to designate those in leadership – kings, priests, and other leaders in authority.  Even God is seen in scripture as the Shepherd – we are his people the sheep of his flock. At the time of Ezekiel, which was a time of international upheaval and Jewish exile, God notices the unfaithfulness of these supposed shepherds. The very ones who were responsible for looking after the flock neglected their duty of care.
There was reversal in roles according to the prophet. Shepherds were not looking after the sheep but rather after themselves. They were living lives of luxury, nestled in their own wicked ways and taking advantage to the detriment of the people. Shepherds lorded their power and authority over the people. There were not strengthening the weak, healing those afflicted, seeking those gone stray. In fact the people were at loss without a shepherd. The exile in Babylon was a means of loss of identity and backsliding from the faith – a great disgrace in the eyes of the Lord. And the shepherds were not faithful in wisdom and guidance. In the end God declares that He will shepherd the sheep and do away with these false shepherds who only care for themselves.
We must pray for those who are shepherds in our society –those entrusted to responsibility – wise and faithful leaders of justice and goodness. How often we see shepherds taking advantage of those entrusted to them by abuse of their power and authority. I remember once being asked by my spiritual director – what empowers you and how are you showing power? We can empower in love or we can empower in domination. All of us are entrusted with power to be shepherds in one way or another – family, work, study, peer groups etc. Do we use that power to be good shepherds or are we taking advantage of that power to dominate and lord it over others?

Who am I a shepherd to in my life? Am I a good shepherd?

The Lord is my Shepherd. There is nothing I shall want. Amen.