Living the Gospel – July 22, 2018

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Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 22, 2018

The gospel reading for today leads us up to the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 which is next week’s gospel. You will recall in last Sunday’s gospel that the disciples were sent by Jesus on mission, two by two, in order that they might proclaim to the surrounding towns that their King and Messiah had appeared. Well, now it was time for the disciples to return and report these ministry experiences to Jesus.

As the disciples shared their experiences with the Master, you can imagine their excitement at the retelling of these mission events including the miracles, the people, and the hardships. But, in this process of reporting, Jesus sees their fatigue, and knowing that they needed time away to decompress and to prepare for what would come next, he determines to take them away from the pressing crowds, for they hadn’t even had time to eat.

So, Jesus led them across the lake to a deserted place so that they might rest, but it appears no escape was possible: Maybe they saw the same thing Jesus saw when he looked at the crowd — “When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.” Jesus saw the brokenness of the human condition first hand; he witnessed the lost-ness within the very heart of humanness. Jesus sees them without leadership, proper, loving leadership.

So, just what does this represent to us for our journey?

To be sure, there is weariness in our role as disciples’ of Christ; often because of our busy lives, we might think to ourselves, “Well, we’ve done our part; we’ve served our time, now it’s up to others to carry on the work..” But, as our trailblazer, Jesus models the determination to finish well the task before him. He let nothing stand in his way, not even weariness.

Mother Teresa said it best; “What is the Good News? The Good News is that God still loves the world through each one of you. You are God’s Good News; you are God’s love in action. Jesus cannot walk the streets of the world now, so he does it through me, through you…Today, God loves the world so much by sending us.” “Jesus will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in his love than in your weakness.”

So as ministers, lay ministers, parents, grandparents, educators, as disciples of Jesus, let us remember the words of Isaiah 40:31 – But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Sylvia Bates