Homily for the sixteenth Sunday of the year - Year B - Mk. 6:30-34


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, 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 lonely place by themselves.


"Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things."





Homily:


"The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught."


The apostles return from their mission: Jesus had sent them to announce the coming of the Kingdom of God, to drive out unclean spirits, and to cure the sick by anointing them with oil. We saw all this last Sunday. The command of the Lord was carried out with care, love, and trust: the apostles did not rely on themselves, but rather on the power of God, the God who had come into their midst in the person of Jesus. The apostles obeyed the command of the Lord, and their obedience produced miracles! Full of gratitude towards he who trusted in those whom he had called to his service, the apostles came and recounted everything to their Lord and Master: he had to be informed of all that they had accomplished at his command.


Today, the Lord is no longer with us, on earth, as he was during his life with his disciples. However, Jesus said, "I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Mt. 28:20) It is true: Jesus is with us, because we are never alone. Jesus is with us, because we form part of his Mystical Body, which is the Church. We are with Jesus, if we are with the Church. And if the apostles told Jesus all that they had accomplished at his command, we too must proclaim loud and clear, though with prudence and discernment, all that we have accomplished in the world in order to fulfill the mission that the Lord has entrusted to each one of us, we who are the members of his Body. The wonders of God which we can accomplish through God's grace are notthings to be hidden away: on the contrary, they must be used to build up the Mystical Body of Christ (cf. 1 Co. 12:7).


"And he said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, 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 lonely place by themselves."


Even if God is Spirit, and this is certainly the case, we ourselves are not pure spirits. So we need rest and food to build up our strength. All this is reasonable. And Jesus makes sure that his disciples rest a little and eat sufficiently, away from the crowd, in tranquility. It is an important thing to do. If the body is tired, and especially if it is too tired, the soul can no longer actively engage in those occupations which are proper to it, such as the contemplation of the Word of God. This is a real danger to the spiritual life. We must monitor our energy and strength. If we have too many things to do, it is imperative for us to give up all that we can, in order to preserve or restore a proper balance between action and contemplation. Let us not forget: prudence is the mother of all the virtues!


"Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things."


Solitude, calm, tranquility - these never last for very long! In fact, as long as we have not yet come to the place of eternal rest, where the Father resides, the time spent in contemplation is but one step on our journey: all too soon, we must once again return to service and preaching. It was similar for Jesus and his apostles. A great crowd ran up to hear the Master and to receive from him a few words of consolation, and, perhaps, the cure for some disease or infirmity. The apostles join the crowd, they continue to receive instruction from he who is eternal Wisdom: in fact, what the disciples of Christ teach, here and there, is always but a rough outline of this great discourse which only the incarnate Word could have made, for he alone is the Word of God!


Jesus feels pity for the crowd. But what sort of pity is it? If these men, women and children were rich people who lacked nothing, we would easily understand that Jesus pities them because they lack the knowledge of eternal life which he had come to bring them; for, let us not forget, the richer we are, the more difficult it is to find the way to Heaven (cf. Mt. 19:23). But here we see the opposite situation: these people are, above all, simple people, rather poor, having few possessions. So, do we understand what true pity is? It consists in always seeing first the needs of the spirit and the soul, and then the needs of the body. It was in this way that Jesus felt pity for the crowd. Let us do as the Master did! If we live an economically prosperous country, let us go to a city and look at the great crowd which, seemingly, lacks nothing: it is for this crowd that we must have pity!


During this Eucharist, let us pray together for the Master to send us his Holy Spirit, in order to make us true disciples of his Word! In order that, with Mary, and for her, we might clearly proclaim all the wonders of God in the world!



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