Ex. 19:2–6 / Ps. 100: 1–3, 5 / Rom. 5:6–11 / Mt. 9:36–10:8

The words God speaks to Israel in this week’s First Reading are intended for us as well.

The Church is the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to Israel — a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation (see Deuteronomy 26:19; Isaiah 62:12).

In the Church, we have been gathered as the new “Israel of God” (see Galatians 6:16). He has made us his own people, the flock he tends, as we sing in Sunday’s Psalm.

Moses was Israel’s first shepherd (see Exodus 3:1). With the Promised Land in view, he prayed that God raise up a successor so that God’s people would not be left as sheep without a shepherd (see Numbers 27:17).

These same words are used in this week’s Gospel to describe Jesus’ pity for the crowds, who are “troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Israel’s shepherds — the Pharisees and scribes — had abandoned and misled the people through their hypocrisy and spiritual blindness (see Matthew 23:1–36; Jeremiah 50:6). But God had long before promised that he would come and save his sheep — searching over the whole earth where they had been scattered “for lack of a shepherd” (see Ezekiel 34:1–24).

Jesus is the new Moses and new David promised by the prophets, a divine shepherd-king sent to restore God’s priestly kingdom (see John 10:11).

As Moses commissioned Joshua as his successor, so we see Jesus in the Gospel Sunday giving the Twelve his powers and authority (see Matthew 9:35; 10:1). In God’s plan, they are to seek out the lost sheep of Israel first and then bring all nations into the fold (see Acts 13:46; Romans 1:16).

Together we have been saved and reconciled to God, as we hear in the Epistle this week. As he delivered Israel, he has also made us a kingdom of priests in the Church (see Revelation 1:6).

So we come in this Mass to serve him with gladness, to praise his kindness, which endures forever.