Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today’s first reading, we hear through the prophet Jeremiah that God understands the need of the people for shepherds who will lead them to a place of spiritual depth and peace. In the Letter to the Ephesians, we hear that this desire that the people find peace in right relationship with God is for everyone. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, leads the disciples to a deserted place to rest. They had just returned from their first time of mission, and Jesus understands that they need time away with him, to share their experiences and questions, and to find refreshment of body and spirit. Yet Jesus also recognizes the needs of the crowds who follow them to that deserted place. He knows that he is the peace for which they long.
Sabbath. We hear the word, and many think of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Today, we hear Jesus say to the disciples, ‘Come away to a deserted place and rest a while.” This is the true spirit of sabbath—to take time away, to worship God, participate in Eucharist, to be refreshed in body, mind, and spirit. Thought of in this way, sabbath is not an obligation but a privilege, a gift rather than a burden. Making sabbath begins with a commitment to put God first. That is what the shepherds that Jeremiah called for were to do, to lead the people to be people of and for God. This is what Jesus, the Good Shepherd, leads us to do, and he shows us how to do this. Not only does Jesus take time away for prayer and to “rest a while,” he also spends time with the people who need him. In sabbath, we spend time with God, family, our faith community, and friends. And this spending time “with” helps us to re-orient our lives toward what is most important.
From Sabbath to the rest of the week
Taking sabbath to heart has a significant impact on the way in which we live our lives, practically and spiritually. The practical part is evident on the surface. Setting aside time for Sunday Mass, quiet, and time with others requires planning and commitment. There is a practical dimension to the physical and emotional benefits of such time away from the stress and busyness of our daily lives as well. The spiritual impact of sabbath may take a little while to begin to perceive. When we put God first in our lives, everything else falls into place in a different, holier way. We begin to see God’s grace in the daily circumstances of our lives, and to grow in understanding of what we are to do and how we are called to act. We know who we are in God’s sight, and whose we are, as children of God.
Today’s Readings: Jer 23:1–6; Ps 23:1–3, 3–4, 5, 6; Eph 2:13–18; Mk 6:30–34