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Bulletin: July 18, 2021

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

If we were to use one word to describe the scriptures for today, it would be “compassion.” In Jeremiah, God rails against those who have scattered the sheep and vows to “gather the remnant” personally. We also hear the prophecy about the coming Messiah. In Ephesians, Christ is breaking down the walls of division between peoples and drawing them to be reconciled with God in peace. In Mark, Jesus calls the tired disciples away to rest and have some “me time,” but even then the crowds persisted. Jesus saw their spiritual hunger and neediness and was “moved with pity.” All three situations involve looking beyond one’s own agenda to see the needs of others and respond. God models how to empathize with others. May we continue to learn to be kinder, gentler, and more caring for each other.


In last week’s Gospel, Jesus sent the apostles out two by two. Today we see him bringing them back together, reporting “all they had done and taught.” A lot has happened between then and now and in this time the disciples experienced many things. They would have grown in their ministry and their ability to heal and preach, but they probably also ran into frustrating times and encountered their limitations as human beings. If human nature prevailed, their partners were driving them nuts! So now after all this sharing, Jesus called for some balance in their lives. It was time to come away and rest. Between family and friends and social media, many of us have lost this ability to “be by ourselves” as we have become accustomed to filling every day and every moment with distractions. Perhaps one of the gifts and challenges of “sheltering in place” these last months is that we celebrated moments of joy and hope and peace but were also forced to listen to and name those voices of anger, loneliness, and fear.


It is important to have balance in our lives, and Jesus was indeed trying to teach this to the Apostles, but when they got to their intended place of repose, they encountered so many people Jesus was filled with compassion. No doubt he went about feeding them spiritually and physically; it would have been important for him to be hospitable. But at some point in time, I’m guessing that he still pulled the apostles aside and told them “Okay, people are settled now, so let’s leave all the excitement, delegate the job to somebody else, and find some peace and quiet.” None of us is any good at our prayer, our ministries, our lives unless we take the time to find the quiet and go back to replenish our own wells. There is no way we can give to others unless we do. That is why we return to church each week, to rest and be nourished and renewed. And none of us is so important that we can’t take time away to take care of ourselves. So be gentle with yourself and with others this week.

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