Today's readings tell us that God is like a father, very firm, but compassionate. He says to the Israelites If you hearken to my voice and heed my covenant, you shall be my special possession. God is firm, yes, but he insists that we hearken to him, that we pay attention to the covenant we have made with him. His covenant is not complicated. It means doing things like telling the truth, honoring our parents and attending Sunday Mass. But then, instead of doing those things, instead of listening to God, we listen to other voices. When we fall, God deals firmly with us –not because he is vindictive or because he likes to see us suffer. No, he deals firmly so that we will get back on the right path.
There is more. Yes, God deals firmly with us, but he is also full of compassion. We see that in the reading from St. Paul. While we were still sinners –even while we were in rebellion against God- he sent his Son, and that it is a wonderful truth. Where the Son is, there also is the Father; God has come to us in Jesus.
And he stays with us. God knows that we often feel troubled and abandoned –like sheep without a shepherd. For that reason his sent his Son, and Jesus continues to shepherd us through the apostles and their successors. Even if you can't remember the names of the twelve, remember this: Jesus has given us shepherds whom we should respect and support.
Jesus commissioned his disciples to carry on the works which he did – to speak God's word and to bring his healing power to the weary and oppressed. In the choice of the twelve apostles we see a characteristic feature of God's work: Jesus chose very ordinary people. They were non-professionals who had neither wealth nor power. They were chosen from the common people who did ordinary things, had no special education, and no social advantages. Jesus wanted ordinary people who could take an assignment and do it extraordinarily well.
When the Lord calls us to serve, we must not think we have little or nothing to offer. The Lord Jesus takes what ordinary people like us can offer him and he uses it for greatness in his kingdom.
He also calls us to care for others with firmness and compassion. Today we remember especially our dads. May they we be like God our Father: firm, but always compassionate.
 Sunday 15th June, 2008; 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Exodus 19:2-6. We are his people: the sheep of his flock—Ps 99(100):2-3, 5. Romans 5:6-11. Matthew 9:36 – 10:8.