JULY 18. Ord Time B. Wk 16. Sun. Mk.6 30-34
The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. So they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But people saw them going, and many could guess where; and from every town they all hurried to the place on foot and reached it before them. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.
The teaching here is of the need to walk away from our normal daily routines from time to time in order to spend some quiet time with God!
There is no doubt our day-to-day activities do have the ability to take all our time and attention, which means we have less time for God, prayer or recollection.
And when this happens the whole focus of our lives can slowly move from seeking and doing the Will of God; - to seeking and following our own desires!
This is a very real and subtle danger for anyone trying to live a spiritual life; - and it can happen so gradually we are not even aware it is happening!
And the end result is we begin to give first place to our earthly concerns; - rather than the Will of God or Love of Neighbour.
But there is a second, and equally important lesson, in today’s Gospel, and that is we need to be always ready to change our plans to meet the needs of others; - or do God’s Will when it is made known!
Christ’s desire in this reading was, clearly, to give his disciples some quiet time away from their duties and preaching, but he always put the needs of the people first.
“As he stepped ashore, he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length!”
When this happened, Christ knew immediately he had to change his plans, and he did so and we are told why; - “He took pity on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd!”
This highlights one of Christ’s core teachings; - Charity and the needs of others must always be given precedence over our own plans and desires!
“So, if you are bringing a gift to the altar, and remember your brother has something against you; - leave your gift and be reconciled with your brother; - then come and offer your gift!”
The Apostles were clearly busy and in need of a rest; - but today’s circumstances meant Christ would have to change his plans!
This response; - to put the needs of others ahead of our own plans and desires; - is one that does not come easy; - and involves genuine sacrifice; - but it is what Christ asks of his followers!
Gospel Acclamation John 10:27
My sheep listen to my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.