Homily for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 22, 2018
In last week’s Gospel, we heard the story of Jesus sending his apostles into the world, two-by-two, to preach the good news, and to heal the sick. This week, we hear about the apostles returning from their journey and reporting to Jesus what they have experienced.
The apostles’ journey had been a success. They were filled with zeal and were excited to report all that they had done and taught. The apostles where fully engaged in their ministry. They rejoiced for God’s power alive in them, and were delighted to be serving in this way.
Jesus was happy to see his friends and hear their reports, but he was concerned about their wellbeing, knowing the challenges ahead of them. One of the challenges was the growing number of people who hungered for more of what Jesus and his friends offered. To Jesus, these people were like “sheep without a shepherd.”
So, Jesus takes on the role of the “Good Shepherd” in responding to his apostles and the growing crowds of people.
Notice the language Jesus uses in addressing his apostles. Jesus doesn’t tell them to “go” and do something. Instead, he tells them “come” – indicating that Jesus will accompany them – wherever they go. Jesus doesn’t order his apostles to do anything. Instead, he encourages them:
- To get some rest (to retreat from all they have been doing)
- To come away by themselves (and to leave the crowds behind)
- To make sure they receive nourishment (to be able to continue their work)
This is a good recipe for sustainability in ministry.
Jesus is like the Good Shepherd in today’s Psalm: guiding his sheep to places where they can rest and rejuvenate; accompanying them (even in dark times), giving them courage; feeding them (body and soul) to strengthen them for the journey; and anointing them and blessing them with abundant grace.
REFLECTING ON OUR GIFTS
A couple of things we need to reflect on from today’s readings:
- Each of us is gifted by God and called to a particular ministry
- To share those gifts as God intended, we need time to rest, and to be fed
That means that we must:
- Have balance in our life – setting priorities on what matters most.
- Trust in God’s grace – realizing that God provides all we need; that he will guide us and guard us on our journey
As a deacon, I love the work I do for our parish and the archdiocese, and I enjoy the work I do in my professional life.
My wife allows me great freedom to fully engage in my ministry as a deacon. My full-time, paying job, working with the Marianists, allows me to incorporate my executive leadership experience to help schools and retreat centers grow their Catholic and Marianist mission and identity. But none of this works if I don’t set priorities and a sense of balance in my life. I am certain that the same is true for you.
Our lives work best when we take time to:
- Rest, relax and reflect, as we listen to the voice of God
- Spend time alone (and with family and friends) to enjoy life, and rejuvenate
- Be fed – physically, emotionally, and spiritually
A question you might want to ask yourself is: “How am I being fed?”
- What are you doing to nurture your spiritual life?
- What are the priorities in your life? How is your sense of “balance”?
I heard an interview on TV the other day. The lead singer for a rock-and-roll band was asked about his habit of going to church each week (something you don’t expect from someone in his profession). When asked why he goes to church each week, the rock star replied, “It’s not because I have to; it’s because I want to.”
This man knew he needed to be spiritually renewed each week. That’s a good example of setting priorities and having a sense of balance in your life.
The reason we Catholics go to Mass every week is (first), to worship God – to give God praise for all he has given us. The second reason is to be fed. Like the apostles, we need to be nourished and formed to continue to do the will of God.
We trust that the grace we receive by participating at Mass will help us grow closer to God, and sustain us in our work of proclaiming God in the world.
I encourage you: Take some time this week to “come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
Find some place, and some time to be still and rest in God’s love.
Wherever you go, know that Jesus (the “Good Shepherd”) is there with you.