Scripture Reflection. . .
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6
Resposorial Psalm: Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.”
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:13-18
Gospel: Mark 6:30-34
In today’s Gospel, Jesus has pity on the people becaus “they were like sheep without a shepherd.”
Sheep without a shepherd must be confused, lost, and distraught. I’ve seen sheep searching fo their companions; they run around, bleating senselessly until they spot their flock.
The people in today’s scripture apparently found something in Jesus that they were looking for, even if unconsciously. They found something that quenched their thirst and deep hunger – be it for spiritual, emotional or physical healing. Jesus knew their deep need like a shepherd knows his flock. To be known that well has a magnetic force – no wonder the crowd went to great lengths to find Jesus!
Today we continue to search for that which will fill our deep emptiness and longing. We too long to be known, loved and healed. This thirst keeps us seeking for more and more ways to satisfy this need. Some call it a God shaped emptiness; a space and need only God can fill. However we live in a time and culture where we are surrounded by voices telling us that material possessions will fill that vacancy. Even our leaders persuade us that power, wealth, and laws to enforce a sense of security will achieve happiness. But over and over, so many lives tell us it’s not true. I think of the song by U2 “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
In the midst of this clamor, Jesus offers us the humble image of sheep and their shepherd. We hear the psalmist utter these timeless words, “The Lord is my shepherd; their is nothing I shall want.”! God knows what we need. The second reading from Ephesians describes this deep need, “He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.”
Peace is discovered when we believe that we are known and loved without condition. In all of our searching we discover that all we need is right here. We only need to listen and believe in the voice of our Shepherd.
In Our Lives as Sisters of the Redeemer. . .
Some may think that as religious women professing the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience that we are exempt from the voices telling us we need more. But the reality is that we live in the midst of a society that is so engrained in a consumer mindset that is can seep into our daily lives. It is by our personal and communal prayer and our shared gospel values that we strive to keep our ears and hearts attentive to the Shepherd reminding us we have everything we need.
Our ministries accompanying individuals experiencing physical, emotional or spiritual poverty keep us close to the truth Jesus proclaimed and lived: it is only in embracing our need and emptiness that we can experience the deep peace of being known and loved.
In Your Life . . .
Listen to Jesus’ invitation to the apostles as he recognized their need, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.” The apostles didn’t get as long a reprieve as they may have liked or even as Jesus had hoped for them. So too may be your experience, nonetheless take what time you have to prayer with Psalm 23. You may want to sing it, read it, or listen to it. This deep peace of being known and loved is yours at all times; in every situation.
You may also wish to listen to this song by Tauren Wells, “Known”
Blessings on your week!