Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

Posté par diaconos le 14 juillet 2021

They were like sheep without a shepherd

 Seizième dimanche du Temps Ordinaire — Année B dans Catéchèse brebis_sans_berger

# The parable of the lost sheep, also known as the « parable of the good shepherd » or « of the good shepherd », attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, is found in two canonical gospels of the New Testament. It is reported by Matthew (Mt 18:12-13) and Luke (Lk 15:3-7). It is also found in the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, logion 107. Possible parallels in the Old Testament are Ezek 34:6, 12 and Ps 119:176.

The parable gave rise to an expression, the ‘lost sheep’, which refers, like the ‘prodigal son’ in a parable that follows immediately after in Luke, to the person who is morally lost, or, again in Luke, to the lost drachma. The first two parables, and sometimes all three, serve as the basis for the considerations of theologians and preachers on the need to seek out the lost sheep and bring it back to the fold, in the case of involuntary loss, or to welcome with grace the repentant sinner, in the case of voluntary loss.

The Good Shepherd is one of the titles « with which Jesus identifies himself (Jn 10:11). It is one of the seven words I am… found only in John’s Gospel and refers to one aspect of Jesus’ mission: the one who gathers, guides, searches (the lost) and lays down his life for others. He feeds his sheep or brings back the lost sheep. This is the origin of the word ‘shepherd’ used in Christianity.

The iconographic theme of the Good Shepherd was first widely used in ancient Greek art, where it was applied to the cryophorus Hermes (from the Greek κριος, « ram » and φόρος, « who bears »), but also to the bearers of offerings, and then in Roman art where it was particularly used in the funerary sphere, according to formulas which fully inspired the emerging Christian art1. 1 This theme is said to have had Sumerian prototypes. Christian iconography first depicts Christ as « the lamb of God », carried by John the Baptist, and then Jesus becomes the Good Shepherd who gathers up the lost sheep. He is traditionally depicted wearing a blindfold, dressed in exomide, and holding a staff, a milking vessel (the mulctra) or a syringe. This theme has inspired many Christian artist.

From the Gospel according to Mark

30 The apostles came to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, « Come to a deserted place and rest a while. For there were many people coming and going, and there was not even time to eat. 32 So they went off in a boat to a desert place by themselves.

33 The people saw them go, and many understood their intention. So they ran there on foot from all the towns and arrived before them. 34 When Jesus came ashore, he saw a great multitude. He felt compassion for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began to teach them at length.  (Mk 6:30-34)
Away in solitude, rest!

Jesus sent his disciples out two by two. This makes it easier to help and support each other, especially in difficult times. But this is not the most important thing. The most important thing was that the message was conveyed with one voice. It is the whole community, all of us, who are called to bear witness in solidarity to the Gospel revealed by Jesus Christ. The first rule of the apostolate is to be a team. Fraternal life is already a preaching of love, even before we talk about it. As members of the living Christ, we have a duty to evangelise.

What is the point of believing in the true God if I never talk about it? God sends us to bring the good news of the Gospel to those around us. He sends us to proclaim the Word, which requires a change of life, a conversion. He asks us to fight evil and to act on behalf of the poor.

Conversion was the first content of the disciples’ preaching: change your life… Convert! This option was so radical that it provoked fierce opposition from the listeners. On average, people do not like to change their lives. Leave us alone! God is disturbing! However, Jesus insists and asks us to commit ourselves to a new life: it is about changing course. Faith is a new way of life that contrasts with the way of life of others.

In this Sunday’s gospel, Mark tells us that the apostles returned from their apostolic tour and met with Jesus to give him a detailed account of their work and teaching. They experienced the power of the Gospel, but above all they experienced resistance, rejection, indifference… Moreover, Jesus had warned them that they would not always be received: « If anyone anywhere refuses to receive you and listen to you, go away and shake the dust off your feet; it will be a testimony to them ». (Mk 6:11)

This is the important moment in the story. They have acted and now they take stock with Jesus: « They told him all that they had done and taught » (Mk 6:11). It is important to take stock of an action, of a mission, in order to understand it better and improve it in future interventions. We do this regularly in our company meetings, in the P.O. of schools and in our parish meetings, it should also be done seriously.

Today, it is true, we meet often. Many Christians have realised how much stronger their faith would be if they could get together with other Christians to discuss and share the Gospel.  This is already the purpose of attending Sunday Mass: after a week lived at work and in our own environment, on Sunday we meet with Jesus. Do I then have something to tell him? What will I tell him about my week? The mission of the apostles was very rich in teaching and they were really tired, exhausted and in urgent need of rest. Jesus realised this and said to them: « Come to a deserted place and rest a while ». Jesus proposed to his friends, exhausted by their work, a time of relaxation, a time of rest.

Jesus wants men and women to be balanced, serene, peaceful.  It is essential to take a break, especially in our hectic world. We often hear complaints such as: « I am tired, I am at the end of my rope, I have nowhere to go, I am fed up… ». How much calm do I voluntarily put into my days, my weeks? How do I spend my holidays? Let us take advantage of our holidays to immerse ourselves in the intimacy of Christ the Saviour through reading and prayer.

In isolation, in solitude, rest! The inner life requires recollection. External agitation produces nothing good. Every serious life oscillates between times of activity outside and times of reflection within: seeing, judging, acting. See, judge, act again. There is no solid Christian life without this double rhythm: inner life and outer activity.

Do I ever take time out of my day to pray? Retreating into intimacy with Jesus never means cutting ourselves off from others; they themselves will come looking for us. When Jesus saw that the crowd had joined them, he did not send them away. He saw what they lacked. He took pity on the crowd. To pray is to make ourselves more attentive to others so that we can better notice their true needs and better respond to them. May each of us keep in our hearts the word that God has spoken to us personally today.

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian websites

◊ Father Hanly : click here to read the paper → Homily for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

◊ frcanicenjoku: click here to read the paper →    Homily for the 16th  Sunday Of Ordinary Time, Year B

  Homily for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B  by  Father Emmanuel Ochigbo

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