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Saturday – Fourth Week – OT1
Readings: Heb 13:15-17, 20-21; Mk 6:30-34.
1/ Reading I: NAB Hebrews 13:15 Through him (then) let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind. 17 Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you. 20 May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord, 21 furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will. May he carry out in you what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever (and ever). Amen.
2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 6:30 The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. 31 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. 32 So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. 33 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. 34 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.
Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, O.P.
I. THEME: The relationship between the pastor and his sheep
In life, no one is an isle and can live by himself. He needs help from others and must provide help for them in return. For example, a newborn child can’t live by himself. On material aspect, he needs his parents’ love and care until he can provide for himself. On intellectual aspect, he needs to be educated in his family and in school so that he can have necessary knowledge to think, to behave, to reason and to interact with others. On spiritual aspect, he needs to be guided to recognize the Creator and to live his relationship with Him.
Today readings emphasize on the special relationship between the pastor and his sheep. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote about the duties of both sides: the pastor must help his sheep and the sheep must respect and obey their pastor. In the Gospel, though Jesus wanted his disciples to value time to rest and to live their relationship with God, however he couldn’t prevent his compassion when he saw people wandered as sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
1/ Reading I: We must help each other to do God’s will.
1.1/ The duties of the faithful: The purpose of the religion is to lead people to God. To achieve this goal, people must do three things:
(1) To worship and to praise God through Christ: The author said, “Through him (then) let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.” Worshipping God is our first duty and can be done either by individual or communal worship.
(2) To lead others to God: Religion isn’t purely in words; but must also be in deeds. The author continued, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind.”
(3) To obey and to help spiritual leaders: According to the Church’s structure, the spiritual leaders in a local area such as the bishop and the priests are those who have a direct duty for the faithful. The author advised the faithful to obey these spiritual leaders, “Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
Beside obedience, the faithful should express their gratitude more positively by praying and caring for the material need of their spiritual leaders so that they might have time and health to serve the sheep. Helping them is to help themselves.
1.2/ We must help each other to do God’s will: This must be our main purpose in life because all things which God creates are for a purpose. What is God’s purpose or will for human beings? The author of the Letter clearly described: that is to share in God’s happiness. So, though it is God’s will, but for the sake of people; therefore, God’s will must also be our will.
(1) Christ fulfilled God’s will: To achieve God’s will, Christ obeyed God in all things, even accepted death to fulfill God’s will, as the author said: “The God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant.”
(2) We must also be loyal in doing God’s will: If Christ was ready to pour out blood for us to live, we shouldn’t let his precious blood be ineffective in us. The author prayed for the faithful: “May Jesus our Lord,furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will. May he carry out in you what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever (and ever). Amen.”
2/ Gospel: : “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.”
2.1/ An apostle needs tranquility to rest and to refresh: An apostle is easily to get high when he sees the results of his apostolic works and is praised by people. These shall lead him to try harder, even ready to sacrifice his time of eating and drinking, resting and recreating, to satisfy people’s need. However, Jesus wisely reminded them: “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.” There are many reasons of this wise advise:
– Human body has its own limitation: When people works hard and are tired, they need to be rested and recovered. If they don’t, they shall be burdened and their future works shall not be effective.
– The apostolic works must be balanced by the prayer life: If an apostle doesn’t spend time to pray, he shall not have spiritual power to meet requirements of the apostolic life. St. Dominic wisely established the Dominican Order that balances these two dimensions: to do apostolic works in daytime and to communicate with God in night time.
2.2/ People are thirsting for the Gospel: Though Jesus and his disciples got on a boat to be away from people and rested for a while, but when Jesus got out of the boat, “he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.” The need to care for people is always urgent because:
(1) Sheep without a shepherd don’t know the way: The shepherd needs to show his people the way to God, the ultimate goal of their life. Without this goal, people are led astray and easy to be led into immoral activities of the devils and the world.
(2) Sheep without a shepherd can’t find nutritous food: The shepherd needs to provide spiritual food for his people through God’s words, sacraments and a prayer life with God.
(3) Sheep without a shepherd will be preys for wolves: The shepherd needs to early recognize signs of danger and traps to warn his people, such as: individualism, materialism, divorce, abortion, wrong understanding of freedom, etc.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– The relationship between the pastor and his sheep requires both dimensions: The pastor loves and cares for his sheep and the sheep obey and help the pastor to fulfill his duty.
– Both of them must help each other to do God’s will and to reach the salvation which Jesus, the good pastor, has prepared for them.
– The apostolic works need to be balanced with the prayer life. An apostolic life without prayer shall easily be disoriented and fell into hopelessness.