16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
This week’s Gospel continues on from last week’s where Jesus had sent the 12 apostles out in twos around the district. What we don’t hear in our Sunday Gospel is what happened while they were away. We have Mark’s account of the events leading up to, and the death of, John the Baptist. Jesus would have been very affected by this event though Mark doesn’t tell us at what point Jesus heard the news.
The apostles, on their return, told Jesus all that had happened and what they had taught. Jesus, recognises that they are now in need of a time away - to rest first of all but also perhaps to have some quiet time to reflect on their experiences. However, the best laid plans come to nothing as they are spotted going off in a boat to a lonely place. The crowds follow them on foot and managed to reach the place first. What now? Jesus could not leave them to themselves as they were ‘like sheep without a shepherd’. He realised that He would need to help them and so set about teaching them.
What can we learn from this week’s short Gospel? There are a number of things we can bring to our own lives. Firstly, Jesus listened to the apostles on their return. How good are we at listening, really listening to others? Do we want them to hurry up so we can have our turn? Do we really listen or do we allow our minds to wander and not pay full attention? Are we impatient because we are not really interested in their talk or even their lives? Perhaps we can strive to listen as Jesus did.
Secondly, Jesus recognised that the twelve needed to rest. This may not mean just sitting or sleeping but actually having quiet time to reflect on our day. How many times do we come in and put on the tv, radio, computer or phone while we relax? How many times do we just sit quietly and reflect on the day? Perhaps not as often as we should. It is worth trying.
Thirdly, plans change. The last thing Jesus wanted was to start teaching again but He recognised that there was a need and the people’s need came before His own or His apostles’ need. Can we honestly say that we always put the needs of others before our own - especially when we are tired? Jesus this week gives us much food for thought and we can only try to follow His example - even when we would rather rest!
Sr. Margaret Mattison