O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
send down upon your Church
the riches of your Spirit,
and kindle in all who minister the gospel
your countless gifts of grace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hear my just cause, O Lord; consider my complaint;
listen to my prayer, which comes not from lying lips.
Let my vindication come forth from your presence;
let your eyes behold what is right.
Weigh my heart, examine me by night,
refine me, and you will find no impurity in me.
My mouth does not trespass for earthly rewards;
I have heeded the words of your lips.
My footsteps hold fast in the ways of your commandments;
my feet have not stumbled in your paths.
I call upon you, O God, for you will answer me;
incline your ear to me, and listen to my words.
Show me your marvellous loving-kindness,
O Saviour of those who take refuge at your right hand
from those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me under the shadow of your wings,
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
A demoniac who was mute was brought to Jesus. And when the demon had been cast out, the one who had been mute spoke; and the crowds were amazed and said, ‘Never has anything like this been seen in Israel.’ But the Pharisees said, ‘By the ruler of the demons he casts out the demons.’
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’
He had compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
Yesterday we read of two people who, driven by despair, turned to Jesus in faith. Because of their faith they experienced the miracle of his life-changing healing touch. Through faith they saw life renewed and a whole new future open up before them. Those two people, a leader of the synagogue and an unclean woman, could not have been much more different, and yet they shared a faith, a faith which was recognized by Jesus. It was in that shared faith that they laid their vulnerability and their need before the only one who could truly help them.
In today’s reading we find that message taken to new lengths. Jesus is still travelling, and teaching, and healing, and Jesus is still being derided by the religious authorities. Despite the familiarity of this narrative we do encounter a subtle difference. Today we read that Jesus had compassion for them. Today the gospel writer spells out Jesus’ motivation for curing every disease and every sickness … compassion for the human race, in all its diversity. Jesus came to earth in a spirit of divine love. Jesus did not come to earth in order that he might be applauded for his amazing demonstrations of inexplicable power. Jesus entered the human condition in order that he might love and serve, in order that he might give the reassurance of God’s love.
Yesterday we read of two people who knew the cause of their own despair: the death of a child and a long-standing and life-inhibiting medical condition. Today Jesus has compassion for those who do not know that their lives are damaged, those who are like sheep without a shepherd.
We live in a world that celebrates self-reliance. We struggle to admit it when we need help. This feeling that we can define and control our own destinies puts us firmly in the midst of the wandering sheep, amongst those who blunder from moment to moment with ever-growing feelings of despair, emptiness and loneliness.
Let us pray for the humility to admit our need. Let us pray that our eyes might be opened and that we might see and know the Shepherd who has compassion for us. Let us pray that we might have the faith to seek and revel in the Shepherd’s healing touch.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray with confidence to God, who has called us into his service.
As we have been called to be disciples in the Church of God, may we be worthy of our calling. Inspire us to proclaim the good news and bring comfort to the needy, seeking no reward but giving thanks for the grace we have received.
Great Shepherd, look with compassion on the peoples of the world who lack purpose and direction. Have mercy on those who have been scattered by war or persecution and lead them into the secure fold of your love.
We pray for the spirit of mission, the power to speak of the faith that is in us and to show it in our lives. Open our eyes to see where the harvest is ripe in this community. Bless those who minister to the needy and the homeless, and those who teach in our schools.
We pray for the sick in mind of body, the outcasts from society and those who are in the power of evil. May all who work to heal or to reclaim be given the compassion and the power which led the first disciples to fulfil the command of their Lord.
We remember those whose harvest has been gathered in and now behold their Shepherd in his glory. We give thanks that, free from all that can harm them, they have entered the Kingdom of heaven.
We pray in the name of Christ, who has compassion on his wandering sheep.
Prayer for the week
grant us anew your grace,
that we may love as you love us,
without selfishness, without ulterior motive
and without desire for gain,
that our worship may be pure,
our prayers honest
and our lives upright in your sight,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore.