They pasture themselves and not the flock.
22 July 2012
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Mk. 6: 30-34: Homily of Saint Augustine (S. 46, 2)
«We have heard this reading that has been proclaimed to us, and I have put myself forward to communicate to you something about it. The Lord will help me tell you the truth, if I forgo in telling you my very own experiences. Then if we would say something that comes from us, we would be pastors who pasture ourselves, and not the flock; but if what we preach to you comes from Him, He will be the One who nourishes us, whoever speaks to us. This is what the Lord God says: O pastors of Israel, who pasture themselves! Is this not the flock whom the pastors ought to pasture? (Ez. 34: 2) That is to say, the pastors must not pasture themselves, but the flock. This is the principal reason by which these pastors are accused: because they pasture themselves, and not the flock. Who are those who pasture themselves? They are those about whom the Apostle says: All those who search for their own interests, and not that of Jesus Christ (Phil. 2: 21)
Indeed, we, whom the Lord has formed in this place, by his sole condescension, and not by our merits, of which we are closely held accountable, we appropriate for ourselves two realities: one, that we are Christians; another, that we are bishops. Being a Christian redounds on our benefit; being a bishop is for your own. There are many Christians who, without becoming bishops, reach God, walking perhaps on the more easy way, and maybe more expedited, since they carry a lighter load. We, on the other hand, besides being Christians by which we ought to render an account of our life to God, we are also bishops by which we ought to give accountability of our administration to God. I reveal this problem to you so that you may take pity on us and you may pray for us.»