Duties of a Spiritual Shepherd

HOMILY — About the duties of spiritual shepherds

“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint but willingly [in God]; not for filthy lucre but of a ready mind [good heart]; neither as being lords over God’s heritage but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5: 2-3).

Here is the constitution for shepherds of the flock of Christ! In a few words, the holy Apostle Peter unmasks three terrible passions which turn the shepherds of the flock of Christ into wolves: the passion of pride, “not by constraint”; the passion of greed, “not for filthy lucre”; and power, “neither as being lords over God’s heritage”.

Contrary to these pernicious passions, the apostle points out three virtues which must adorn the priest of God: the fear of God (but willingly in God), zeal (but of a good heart) and service (being an example to the flock).

The apostle gave this constitution not only as a teacher but also as a prophet. Primarily, the centuries have revealed two types of shepherds: the first were those who, in their lofty positions of governing the Church, were guided by their passions: pride, greed and lust for power and the second, those who were guided by the fear of God, zeal and an example of service.

From the former, the Church suffered but did not perish while they perished. From the latter, the Church grew and advanced and shone forth in the world. The former are wolves and the latter are shepherds. The former are enemies both of man and of God and the latter are friends of man and of God. Christ the Chief-Shepherd will seek an accounting both from the former and the latter concerning every sheep, i.e. of every human soul and will justly recompense everyone according to their merit.

Pride, greed and lust for power in so-called shepherds will be rewarded by eternal fire and the fear of God, mercy and service of the true shepherds will be rewarded by eternal rejoicing.

O Lord Jesus the Chief-Shepherd, help the shepherds of Your spiritual flock that, to the end, they may fulfill the commandment of Your holy apostle.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

Prologue of Ochrid

O Lord Jesus Christ, enkindle the hearts of all Thy priests with the fire of zealous love for Thee, that they may ever seek Thy glory; Give them strength that they may labor unceasingly in Thine earthly vineyard for the salvation of our souls and the glory of Thine All-Honorable and Majestic Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Especially this priest, thy unworthy servant, a sinner, enkindle in me a heart with the fire of zealous love for Thee, that I may ever seek Thy glory; Give me strength that I may labor unceasingly in Thine earthly vineyard for the salvation of our souls and the glory of Thine All-Honorable and Majestic Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

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About padrerichard

I am a Priest with ROCOR and serve as Rector at St. Joseph of Optina Parish in Virginia Beach, VA
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