Peace to you!
In a way, this Sunday could be called Good Shepherd Sunday because Jesus felt pity for the people who seemed like sheep without a shepherd.
In the Gospel story this weekend Jesus and the disciples don’t get much rest between the demands of the crowds. One thing that stands out is what Jesus said to his partners in ministry: “come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” God knows how important it is that we take care of ourselves and get some rest. That’s because we are human and we all need a chance to recharge our batteries!
Sunday is our principal day to come to the Lord for blessing, renewal and rest as a community. Many of us have perhaps been wearied by the tedium of the week and we need God’s strength and to be revitalized through the Eucharist. We all experience spiritual renewal in our souls and we are sanctified, made holy, by participating in the Eucharist. This is the new energy and joy that comes with the Eucharist. We also enjoy communion with the community by getting a cup of coffee, a donut and some conversation with other people in our faith community. We’re ready for another week of whatever comes next and we’re happy about it! It’s amazing how the Lord calls us, nourishes us and sends us out again and again to be his messengers! After living this pattern and enjoying the goodness it brings to life, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would choose to separate themselves from the Word and Sacraments of Christ.
In the first reading the prophet is sent to call the people back to God. The leaders of God’s people decided to shoot the messenger so-to-speak and reject his call. Things deteriorated after that and the country fell into civil war followed by foreign invasion/occupation and captivity. 500 years later the attitude of the leaders in Jesus’ day was unchanged: they crucified Jesus rather than listen to him. Then civil war erupted and their temple was razed to the ground. Today, over 2000 years later, a Muslim Mosque stands in the place of Solomon’s Temple.
The people Jesus meets in the Gospel are outside of the towns because they are not finding what they need in town. At least they knew enough to search for what they needed!
As leaders, whether of a faith community, civil community, state or country, we have to know that we need to come away to hear God’s voice, to rest in his love and grace, to be nourished and strengthened by him. We need to be led and fed by God so that we can lead and feed others in the right way. If the leaders don’t listen and follow, how can they expect others to listen and follow? If God is not listened to, people go the wrong way, greed, avarice, lust, evil, destruction and war result. Perhaps you know someone who could use some divine nourishment. Invite them to come and encounter Jesus, the Good Shepherd! God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter