Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B July 22, 2018

First Reading
Jeremiah 23:1-6

The Lord promises to shepherd his people Israel.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 23:1-3,3-4,5,6

The Lord is our shepherd.

Second Reading
Ephesians 2:13-18

Christ has reconciled us with God and united us in peace.

Gospel Reading
Mark 6:30-34

Jesus invites his disciples to rest after their ministry, and Jesus is
moved with pity for the crowds who pursue them.

The apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
"Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while."
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In this today's Gospel, we read the report of the return of the Twelve,
who were sent by Jesus to preach repentance, heal the sick, and drive out
demons. When the Twelve return to Jesus, he invites them to come away from
the crowds and rest. But the crowds will not give them peace. As the
Twelve have shared in Jesus' ministry, they now appear to share in his
popularity. The crowds continue to approach them, and Mark reports that
the disciples don't even have time to eat. In an effort to get away, Jesus
and his disciples board a boat in hopes of finding a deserted place. But
the crowds notice this and arrive ahead of them. The crowds are so
persistent that Jesus and his disciples cannot find a place to be alone.
Mark's Gospel tells us that Jesus is moved with pity and begins to teach
the crowds.

Our Gospel for today stops here, but Mark's report of the unyielding
demands of the crowd continues in the verses that follow. If we were to
continue reading from Mark's Gospel, we would hear Jesus instruct his
disciples to feed the crowd in the familiar miracle of the multiplication
of the loaves and fishes. The work of Jesus and his disciples appears to
be a round-the-clock job. In the next few weeks, we will hear the story of
Jesus' feeding of the multitude, but our Lectionary will turn to the sixth
chapter of the Gospel of John to report and reflect on this story.

In today's Gospel, we hear the Twelve referred to as "apostles." The word
apostle is a Greek word meaning "one who is sent." Jesus chose twelve men
from among his disciples whom he sent to share in his ministry of
preaching and healing. The first report of this is found in the third
chapter of Mark's Gospel, where the Twelve are also called apostles and
the names of this select group are listed.

We who are Jesus' disciples today have also been sent to share the Gospel
with others. Perhaps our commitment to following Jesus as his disciple
leaves us feeling tired and overwhelmed. In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus
affirm the importance of times of rest and renewal. Jesus wanted his
disciples to come away and spend time alone with him. This is what we seek
and find in our life of prayer and in our celebration of the Eucharist.

Family Connection
Family demands can make us feel like Jesus and the twelve apostles. We
wish for times of relaxation and renewal, but there are errands to do,
household chores to keep up with, volunteer commitments to keep. These are
all good things, but we can be left feeling drained and tired as we try to
keep up. Perhaps we might take the opportunity this week to give ourselves
permission to find the rest and relaxation that Jesus seeks for his
disciples in today's Gospel. One of the gifts we can give to one another
in our family life is assistance in finding the time and space to renew
ourselves through prayer.

When you gather together as a family this week, bring your family
calendar. Together review your family calendar and spend some time
reflecting on your family activities. In particular, ask if your family
has an appropriate amount of time for rest and relaxation. If not, discuss
ways in which this time for renewal might be included in the week ahead.
Read together today's Gospel, Mark 6:30-34. Notice how Jesus tried to find
time and space for his disciples to rest and relax after they returned
from their mission. Conclude in prayer together, asking God to help us
find time to renew ourselves so that we might be better disciples of
Jesus. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.

Sources: Loyola Press; Sunday Readings

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