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Daily Missal Reflection

Creighton U. Daily Reflection

July 21, 2024
John Shea, S.J.
Creighton University's Department of Biology
click here for photo and information about the writer

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 107

Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalms 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
Ephesians 2:13-18
Mark 6:30-34

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

A Renewed Personal Encounter with Jesus

Perhaps you’ve had this experience: You’re feeling exhausted and burnt out. So, you’re looking forward to some rest during your annual vacation. But when you arrive to your favorite vacation spot, one of the kids falls ill. And now you must play nurse for the week. Or your boss calls with an emergency at work. And now you must take time to work remotely. Or the car breaks down and you need to take it in for repairs. You must postpone your much needed rest out of necessity.

Something similar happens to Jesus and his disciples in our Gospel reading. The disciples return from their missionary journeys, reporting to Jesus all they had done. Jesus perceives their need for some rest and so they set off in a boat to a deserted place. Unfortunately, the people figured out where they were going and arrived there first. Instead of dismissing the crowd, Jesus’ heart is moved with pity “for they were like sheep without a shepherd.”

This shepherd imagery echoes our first reading in which Jeremiah reminds us how the kings in the royal line of David failed as shepherds for the flock of Israel. And so, because Israel belongs to God, the divine shepherd steps forward to care for the flock. God does not rest. Instead, God continually cares for us. Likewise, Jesus does not cancel his “vacation” and continues to teach the crowd who are hungry for spiritual food.

We are not God or Jesus. We do need rest. But we also need to allow our hearts to be moved with pity. In Jesus’ time, shepherds worked 24/7 with little time for rest, always on the lookout for a lost or sick sheep or for a threatening predator. Balancing our own needs against the needs of our neighbors requires careful discernment. It also requires trust in Christ who, as our second reading reminds us, is the source of our peace. Jesus provides us the life and energy to serve others. Jesus gives us the strength to cancel our “vacation” when the need arises. And it is in Jesus where we can find true rest.

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