A Meaningful Holiday

Jul 24, 2018

Gospel Reflection, 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B
Jeremiah 23: 1-6; Ephesians 2: 13-18; Mark 6: 30-34

A Meaningful Holiday

Today’s gospel is suitable for holidays and vacations.  “Rest awhile!”  There is a time for working and a time for resting from our work.  Jesus lets his disciples have some time for rest and refreshment, after they have followed him and done strenuous things on behalf of many:  “Come away with me to a lonely place, where we can be on our own, and rest awhile.”

Jesus wants to have time with the disciples, in peace and away from all the bustle, simply to be together.  Often he himself went off to look for solitude away from human activity to be in silence and to pray.  On this occasion, though, things turn out quite differently.  The apostles and Jesus find an enormous crowd waiting for him and to hear him.

The evangelist Mark is interested in Jesus’ attitude toward this situation.  There is not a word of impatience or of irritation that the plans for a time of relaxation have come to nothing.  He gives his entire attention to the people who have come running to him, full of expectation, with their worries, their trouble and their illnesses.  He thinks only about all the people who are now looking to him with hope.  And he looks upon them with great sympathy for their difficulties and the hard life they have and the burdens that they have to bear. 

Amazingly, he reacts to their need, which goes to his heart, teaching them many things until it was evening.  The disciples’ stomachs must have been rumbling greatly.  Yet, Jesus takes pity above all, on the aimlessness of the people who come running after him.  More than everything, he wants to show them first of all the way that leads to life and happiness.  He would later multiply bread and fishes for them (next week), but he gives them the gospel first of all. 

We, thankfully, have enough bread, but we urgently need direction.  That is what Jesus is giving in his gospel, today, freely and plentifully.  How is Jesus desiring to teach you and give you direction?  Can we be like the crowd and seek him?  Can we come to him for one hour and pray to him?  Let us ask him to show his loving presence to us and answer our prayers.  We simply must take time for this, a meaningful holiday.

Father Tony