The Gospel reading for July 22, the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, is Mark 6:30-34 .
“Now what?” It’s a difficult thing to hear, isn’t it? The train comes late, a child unexpectedly cries, and the latest public policy debate flares up in the news. Life throws us curveballs, and we have no choice but to adapt. Jesus and the Apostles find themselves in that exact situation in today’s Gospel.
The Apostles have returned from their two-by-two missionary journey. As Jesus hears all of their stories, he knows they need time to recover and refresh. “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Their wilderness retreat is short-lived, however, as eager crowds discover their location. Jesus is well aware of the needs of his disciples. Still, as he looks out at the crowd, “His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” The rest break is over. “He began to teach them many things.”
For those of us who have experienced a taste of much-needed relaxation only to have it taken away abruptly, perhaps we surmise what the Apostles might have been feeling in that moment. But Jesus isn’t being inconsiderate of the Apostles needs. He offers them — and us — a lived lesson. St. John Paul II wrote, “The whole of Christ’s life was a continual teaching: his silences, his miracles, his gestures, his prayer, his love for people, his special affection for the little and the poor, his acceptance of the total sacrifice on the Cross for the redemption of the world” (On Catechesis in Our Time, 9). In Jesus’ choice to teach, we see all of these things: sacrificial love, concern for the marginalized, and priority of people’s needs over personal preference. These aren’t abstract ideals. They’re lived realities as we strive to live and love like Jesus. When a new obstacle confronts you in your life, how do you respond?
Meditation from Liturgical Publications Inc.