GOSPEL REFLECTION: 16th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
22nd July 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:13-18
GOSPEL: Mark 6:30-34
The Apostles returned from their mission. They gathered around Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught.
He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.
Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Have you ever experienced being too exhausted, stressed and burnout? If you experience constant stress, feeling helpless, feeling physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted then today’s Gospel text is for you to reflect upon.
The Gospel text for this Sunday is a continuation of last Sunday’s Gospel text. In last Sunday’s Gospel, St. Mark relates to us about the sending of the twelve apostles to a mission i.e. to preach the good news and to administer to the needs of the people – curing the sick, casting out demons. It was such a huge task for the apostles.
Now, in today’s Gospel text, St. Mark relates to us the return of the apostles from doing their mission. They reported to Jesus what they’ve accomplished. The apostles must be very tired. And so Jesus invites them to come away with him and rest. They were hoping to escape for just a little while to seek rest, to share the stories of their experiences and to debrief but the crowd followed them and arrived even ahead of them. When Jesus saw the crowd he had compassion towards them because “they were like sheep without a shepherd.” And Jesus attended to their needs.
Upon reflection on the Gospel, two things came up to my mind. First, Jesus recognized the need to rest. Second, Jesus is a compassionate God. He set aside his own personal needs and replaced it with a concrete need to minister to the people.
Let me, therefore, focus my reflection on these two particular points. When we are feeling a little weary amidst the busyness of life, or probably we’re wrung out or burnout, we should have in mind that even our Lord Jesus recognized the need to rest or to a retreat, After doing his ministry of preaching and healing and when he felt his strength waning, Jesus would steal away to a lonely place away from the crowd to pray.
There was once a lawyer whose main preoccupation was to make money. His ultimate goal was to get rich. So he worked hard for that, finding no time to be with his family, no time for leisure and no time to pray. For him time is gold and he should not waste time on the less important matter. And he became successful in life. But his relationship with his family suffered. He got separated from his wife and his only son got imprisoned for drugs and other crimes. When the father visited his son in prison he asked his son this question – ” Why? What happened to your son? Where did I go wrong, son?” To which the son replied, “It’s all because you really did not care about us. All your concern was to make money. You did not even find time to be with mom and me”
The man in the story did not know that a good and successful life should be a balance between work and rest and prayer. A Philosopher Socrates once said, “An unreflected life is not worth living.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus affirms the importance of rest and renewal. Jesus invites to come away with him and to rest. This is what we seek and find in our life of prayer. Life is full of changes and challenges. As soon as we get finished with one, there is another one in our path. Thus a great temptation to make ourselves with so much work and not finding time to rest. But there is a saying – “A person who wants to sing always find a song; likewise, a person who wants to pray always find the time.” When was the last time you spend quality time to pray? Prayer is not a waste of time. When we pray we learn, we experience healing. How we pray reveals a lot about our soul, just like how we spend money says so much about what we value. Jesus, therefore, is like telling us in today’s Gospel the need for us to rest not only for physical renewal but also for spiritual refreshment through reflection. When I say rest, I do not mean only to pray but also to reconnect with the inner self. To find time to stop and smell the flowers. To find time to appreciate the beauty of nature. To find quality time to bond with the people around most especially with your family.
The last part of the Gospel reveals Jesus’ compassion. “As Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus was hoping to spend quality time with his disciples but something comes up unexpectedly and so Jesus set aside his own personal needs. We can practically relate to the experience of Jesus. For example, a doctor, in the middle of the night and sleep got an emergency call of duty. A good doctor will comply at once. Similarly, a good priest responds quickly and joyfully to an emergency call to administer to the sick. There are times when we feel that we have already given so much and yet we are asked to give even more. That is compassion. Compassion literally means ” to suffer with another.” In our most trying moments, remember that we have a compassionate Lord. We only have to trust in his great love who invites us to “come to him, all you that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”