YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE GOOD SHEPHERD
BY: Fr. Benny Tuazon
(Mk. 6:30-34) Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel which was very much complimented by the other readings, though it is not Good Shepherd Sunday, Jesus is portrayed as the Good Shepherd. After deciding to leave for a while and settle to a far away place with His apostles, they realized that the people followed them and were even way ahead of their destination. Jesus was moved with pity when He saw them. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd.
The First Reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah revealed that the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd had already been used to depict God’s love. The Responsorial Psalm further developed this imagery. The relationship was seen by the prophet as a good way to appreciate and understand God’s love for us.
Note that Jesus was speaking before a people who see, hear, smell, and feel sheep everywhere and every time. They understood every single detail of the relationship. Jesus was able to touch their hearts with words and imageries like these. You can imagine them nodding with approval and wonder when Jesus refers to Himself not just a Shepherd but a Good one. Three things which a shepherd does to his sheep: know, protect, and serve. When shepherds meet in a certain place, sheep cannot but mix together. Yet, when the time to part comes, the shepherd could easily call on his sheep and the sheep will follow him. They know each other. The shepherd knew not only the name but also the life of the sheep. He knew their strengths and weaknesses, attitudes, health, and ways. Each sheep gets a special care from the shepherd. When in danger, whether from thieves, calamities, or accidents, the shepherd gives unlimited protection. Yes, he is willing to give his life that they may live. While it is true that if the shepherd dies, the flock suffers, the shepherd would not hesitate to sacrifice his life to protect them. He does not say, “ I got your back.” Rather, he says, “I will lead.” Lastly, the shepherd serves his sheep. He provides them with food and drink and shelter. Most of all, he provides them love. Their needs are amply available and accessible.
If this is the relationship between a shepherd and a sheep, how much more if we have Jesus as our Shepherd? Nobody knows us best than Jesus. He knows what are in our hearts and our minds. He knows our strengths and weaknesses, hopes and desires, wants and needs, likes and dislikes. That is why He understands us very well. If others are quick to judge and condemn, Jesus is not. His protection is not anymore suspect. He did not only humble Himself by becoming one like us in order to show compassion, but He died for us so that we will be saved from the consequences of sin. Like any or more than any good shepherd, He protects us with His life. Finally, Jesus serves and provides. His three year ministry gave us a comprehensive and effective guide to navigate earthly life. His words which were faithfully enshrined in the bible direct, inspire, and motivate us to live our faith.Jesus did not leave us by ourselves. His Spirit dwells in us. We are always protected at all times, in all places, and from all enemies. One more thing is glaring in today’s Gospel. Jesus and His apostles took time out from their ministry. The apostles just came from a mission. Jesus knew how they felt. Rest is one thing He would not deprive His apostles of. And Himself too!
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.”
Rest is not really stoppage of ministry. Even machines need rest. Jesus invited His apostles to make a retreat. It must be a time to be silent, to rest, and reflect on what they had experienced from their mission. The Good Shepherd also wants us to take rests. In fact, Sunday, the Lord’s Day, was assigned for it. Let us spend it as it should be spent, time with family, rest for the body and mind, communing with the Lord, and reflecting on one’s life. A Sunday spent well gears and primes as perfectly not only for the days, weeks, and years to come, but for eternity.