From the Pastor's Desk
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today's readings explain how God, like a good shepherd, redeems His people and provides for them. The readings also challenge us to use our God-given authority in the family, in the Church, and in society, with fidelity and responsibility.
In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah (sixth century B.C.), thunders against Israel's careless leaders - the king, some priests, and some court prophets – because they have shown no concern for the poor. The prophet also foretells the rise of a new, good shepherd in the family-line of David. Then he consoles the Israelites enslaved in Babylon, assuring them that God will lead them back to their original pasture in Israel.
Today's Good Shepherd Psalm (Ps 23) affirms David's Faith and trust in God, the "Good Shepherd."
The second reading introduces Jesus as the shepherd of both the Jews and the Gentiles and explains how Jesus, the good shepherd, has reconciled all of us with His Father by offering Himself on the cross. Paul also speaks about another reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles, brought about by Jesus' accepting both into the same Christian brotherhood.
The reading from the Gospel of Mark presents Jesus as the good shepherd fulfilling God's promise given through His prophet Jeremiah in the first reading. Here we see Jesus attending the weary apostles, who have just returned, jubilant, from their first preaching mission, while at the same time expressing concern for the people who, like "sheep without a shepherd," have gathered at their landing place in the wilderness.
1) We need God's grace to become good shepherds: The Christian life is a continuous passage from the presence of God to the presence of people and back to God again. Prayer is essentially listening to God and talking to Him. We should allow God the opportunity to speak to us and recharge us with spiritual energy and strength by setting aside enough time for Him to speak to us and for us to speak to Him. He speaks to us powerfully when we spend some time every day reading the Bible devoutly and meditating on the message God gives us in Scripture. We receive strength from God to do our share of the shepherd's preaching and healing ministry by asking for it individually, in the family, and as a community in the parish Church, participating in the Eucharistic celebration.
2) The Church has the double responsibility of teaching and feeding: There can be no true Christianity without the proclamation of the Gospel. Teaching the Word of God is essential to a Christian community. Christians must also display the compassion of Jesus by meeting the social and material needs of others by our works of charity as individual Christians and as a parish community.
Civilized people have lost the ability to sleep as deeply and peacefully as they should: In the 1970s, Michael Caine and Sidney Poitier co- starred in the movie Zulu, which was shot in Kenya. They were assigned a local man to drive them around town. One night, after attending a late-night party, Michael and Sidney came out to the car and found their driver to be unconscious. No matter how hard they tried, they could not rouse him, nor could they find his pulse. They called a local doctor and reported the apparent death. After a quick examination, the irritated doctor announced that the man was only sleeping. Michael Caine protested that the man had no pulse and was impossible to wake. But the doctor explained that this is the way all people are supposed to sleep. 'Civilized' people, he said, who live in big, noisy cities and hold down draining, stressful jobs have lost the ability to sleep as deeply and peacefully as they should. == Maybe that doctor is right. It would be interesting to know how many of us have to take something occasionally to help us sleep. Jesus knew it was important for people to get away from time to time. His apostles had been out preaching and teaching and healing and ministering to the public. And it was Jesus who suggested that they get away from the crowds for a while and rest.