Fr Vincent's reflections on the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2021
People followed Jesus from all the towns around where he preached, running miles on foot to listen to him and watch him, inviting others to join them. Do we experience the same attraction to Jesus as did those first followers? If we claim that Jesus is important, how do our lives display this claim?
Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2021
Read the script:
16th Sunday – Ordinary Time (July 18, 2021)
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
R/. And with your spirit.
On this 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, let us pray:
Show favor, O Lord, to your servants
and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace,
that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity,
they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
Please pause this video and retrieve your Bible so you can follow along.
The Gospel today is Mark 6:30-34.
✠ A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark
The apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.
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.
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Are you “attracted” to Jesus? The quick, simply answer is likely ‘Yes!” Yet, there can be a variety of feelings any of us might have toward Jesus, and just as varied are the reasons for those feelings. Matthew’s gospel says, “people were coming and going in great numbers,” which prevented the apostles and Jesus from getting a bite to eat! Jesus tries to give the apostles some time off. But the crowds would not let that happen – they arrived on foot ahead of Jesus in the boat! Plus, word got around, also by people running from town to town, and the numbers of the crowd were greater than before! Now, that is “attraction!”
So, this is the reason to look at the question: “Am I attracted to Jesus?” And, exactly “how am I attracted?”
Would I go, literally, running on foot to meet Jesus? Would I leave home and work behind to get a chance to listen to Jesus? Would I take the time to share my excitement with others to get them to join me in running to meet Jesus? With all these questions phrased like this, we might be tempted to say: “if it was really Jesus, then I might act that way.” Many Christian believers in this day and age can get the attitude that Jesus was an historical figure who lived 2000 years ago, so I am not going to meet Jesus today. It is just a church of believers listening to words written a long time ago and praying to an invisible God, so there is no reason for this kind of excitement right now.
Our Catholic Faith teaches us that Jesus is in His Word read at Mass, and He is most definitely truly present in the Eucharist we receive through Holy Communion. Jesus is not merely an historical figure whom we recall, but Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity, true God, who makes himself really present to us, even if under the veil of the Sacrament. So He is not less with us than He was with the disciples 2000 years ago, even if we don’t see his living, breathing body, (which happens to still exist in Heaven!).
Our attitude toward Sunday worship and keeping ourselves worthy of receiving Holy Communion is a sign of whether or not we are really excited to see Jesus. So, if that is weak for some of us, let us consider other forms of excitement and if these ideas can help us rediscover the supreme excitement we should be experiencing.
Maybe like the crowd, we want to be excited, but we are not sure about Jesus because we are not sure about life itself. Jesus saw them as lost, sheep without a shepherd to guide them. They followed Jesus hoping for signs and wonders; they wanted a reason to believe in him beyond just his teachings – that’s why so many gave up on Jesus even when he was walking, talking flesh and blood to them. Their life-focus was too limited to the day-to-day without a spiritual vision. If you and I are lost in the day-to-day issues of life, then we too can expect Jesus to signs and wonders to make our lives easier. Without that, we lose excitement and drift away.
But, if we truly listen to his message: the love of God for his children, and His desire to live a spiritual union with us better than anything the world can offer, then we might experience the longing of the heart to have more than what we can see and touch. Jesus’ message is meant to stir the heart and create a spiritual longing which helps us to turn away from the “here-today, gone-tomorrow” worldly excitement. We can find a deeper and long-lasting attraction which keeps us connected to Jesus. It is beyond description but just as real as anything in the world, but better because it doesn’t grow old and deteriorate, not if we keep our heart focused on who Jesus is today and how Jesus comes to us today. Then, our attraction will be real and strong, and we will be able to say, not just a simple “Yes, Jesus is attractive,” but a resounding “Yes, I will do whatever it takes to come to Jesus, and I will be sure others know He is truly here!”
Jesus wants to shepherd all people toward his Heavenly Father, but you and I need to work on our level of attraction to Jesus so we will not leave the flock, and also find the energy and attraction to invite others to come and see with us. Thank God, I can think of nothing more attractive than Jesus in the Mass, in Eucharistic Adoration, in reading Sacred Scripture, and in praying to Him daily throughout the course of each day. And I hope to get more and more people to come and see for yourselves!
And now, the final blessing.
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
May the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.