Reflection: Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Jer.23:1-6; Ps.22; 2nd Reading – Eph.2:13-18; Gospel – Mk.6:30-34]

“… NO FEAR …”

Jesus summoned and sent his Apostles out in pairs with authority over unclean spirits. When they returned and shared their experiences with Jesus on what they had done and taught, although Jesus listened to them, He still wanted them to go with Him to some lonely place all by themselves to rest for a while (we are told they even took a boat) because they did not have time to eat… perhaps through enthusiasm or joy… For Jesus, what seemed most important was that they were once again with Him. While resting they had the time to reflect on their own experiences.

Nothing can compare to the stillness and the serenity of being in a boat in the middle of a lake or sea, “far from the madding crowd”, especially after being constantly surrounded and pressed about by the crowd with little or no time for themselves! But their plan to get away from the crowd for some time “alone” was short-lived, for the people figured out where they were heading to and so hurried off and waited for them at the destination even before their arrival!

A number of questions spring to mind: What were these people running after? Was it to hear about what the Apostles have done and taught? Or was it because they wanted to hear Jesus, for what He was doing and teaching? Although we are not specifically told, it seems that the people were after the former, i.e. what the Apostles have done and taught. The crowds were eager to continue to hear the Apostles and to see the miracles they performed. Now, we know that the Apostles were to share their own experiences with Jesus and their duty was to refer the crowds back to Jesus: that is, they were to serve as instruments or indicators to the One who sent them, in whose name they were working miracles and who had all authority and who wanted to share this authority with them over unclean spirits. In other words, the Apostles simply were to direct the people back to Jesus. So although it appears that the Apostles did some great things, they did not really do a “very” good job of it because they left the people “like sheep without a shepherd”. The Apostles still had to learn what doing a “very good job” was all about (something they were to learn and understand only through the Holy Spirit after the resurrection!). So Jesus started to teach them (both the Apostles and the crowds alike) “at some length” and became their teacher, uniting those who were near (the Apostles) with those who were far (the crowds) together through his teaching (today’s second reading). At the same time Jesus united them through becoming their shepherd “A shepherd that takes care of his flock” as presented by the prophet Jeremiah and the Psalm in today’s readings.

It is interesting how the Apostles (although they were unaware of it) did flow the crowds towards Jesus albeit indirectly. By looking for the Apostles, the people arrived to Jesus simply because Jesus was with the Apostles on the boat. It is interesting to note how God has his own ways and means to arrive to his own will for those who are open to Him.

What are we looking for when we come to Mass? Is it to put our conscience at rest by “obeying the precepts” or because we truly believe that the Lord is our Shepherd who can lead us to fresher and greener pastures? Is it Jesus, or something else the main focus of our attention?

Lord, it is not easy to have our attention focused towards You because we are constantly distracted by many things around us. Help us to recognise You as our Shepherd, and therefore there would be nothing else that we shall want. Thank you Lord!”

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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