YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
BY: Fr. Gerald M. Musa
Weekends, particularly, Sundays are days for rest, but a lot of people are so busy 24/7 that neither Sundays nor weekdays make any difference. It is not surprising that many people today are suffering from pathological stress as a result of too much work and commitments. The body is demanding for rest and there seem to be little or no time to listen or respond adequately to this demand. We just keep pushing through, even when the body, mind and soul seek for refreshment.
Jesus sent the seventy-two disciples out to go and preach and they came back with stories of success. They were so busy during their pastoral work that they had no time even to eat. Jesus, the compassionate shepherd invited them to come to a lonely place where they could be by themselves and take some rest and eat. This was because he cared so much not only for their spiritual wellbeing but for the physical well being as well.
The gesture of Jesus towards his disciples proclaims a message that says: IN AS MUCH AS YOU TAKE CARE OF OTHERS, DO NOT FORGET TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. That is to say even if you render services to people for as much as 23 hours in a day, have at least a non- negotiable hour of rest and refreshment for yourself. Jesus invites us also to take care of ourselves, (minds, body, spirit and soul) so as to be able to serve others much better. For example Sundays and annual vacations are set apart for rest. More over, it is for the sake of the revival of the spirit that people go for retreats where they can be alone with their God and come back more refreshed physically and spiritually.
Psalm 23 is perhaps the most popular psalm and the content of the psalm is very powerful because it gives one the re-assurance of God’s love and care. This Psalm gives us the re- assurance that in the midst of troubles, when we walk in the shadow of the valley of death, the Lord is present with us and even when the world abandons us and when people judge us harshly and when we think that all hope is gone. Sometimes when we feel too lonely and afraid, we say in our discouragement, “no one cares for me.”
The prophet Jeremiah explains how much the Lord cares. He says even when earthly shepherds or parents abandon their flock or children, the Lord gathers the abandoned and showers them with his love and care. Mother Theresa one recounted her experience of going to a nursing home, which is very beautiful and very effectively run. However, she noticed that the elderly people were not smiling; instead they kept looking at the door and when she asked one of the nurses why they were looking at the door, she was told it was because they expected someone among their family and friends to come and visit them. Mother Theresa was so surprised that even though these people had everything in terms of beautiful environment and an effective healthcare system, they were emotionally lonely. So, she concluded those who are poor are not just those who lack money, but also those who lack care and support from others. When shepherds, leaders, friends and even family fail to come to us or keep us at arm’s length, Jesus walks into the room as the invisible guest that strengthens and consoles us. The Lord takes the best care of us when nobody cares about us.
16th Sunday of the Year B/Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 22; Ephesians 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34.