ILLUSTRATIONSCOMMENTARYCHILDREN

16th Sunday of Year B

CLEVELAND CLINIC (4:23) – Patient care is more than just healing — it’s building a connection that encompasses mind, body and soul. If you could stand in someone else’s shoes . . . hear what they hear. See what they see. Feel what they feel. Would you treat them differently?

EMPATHY: THE HUMAN CONNECTION TO PATIENT CARE

Jacob Bronoski, in his landmark television documentary, The Ascent of Man, revealed how medicine progressed in its development as a science. In the beginning, the doctor would read the great classics of healing, but would never touch the patient. He would direct a lowly surgeon to make the incision in the patient. Real healing didn’t take place, until one doctor had the courage actually to touch his patient. You see, you can’t heal them till you touch them.

Jesus not only felt the emotions of other people , he reached out to them with a desire to help. He touched them. He had compassion.

GOD AS A COMPASSIONATE PARENT

BibleProject (5:05) – Compassion is a deeply emotional word used to convey the strong bond between a parent and their child. In this video, we look at this rich Hebrew word, the first one God uses to describe himself in Exodus 34:6-7. God is portrayed as a compassionate parent throughout Scripture—both as a mother and a father, and his compassion is embodied in the person of Jesus.

Jim Wallis, the founding editor of Sojourners magazine writes: “At times I think the truest image of God today is a black inner-city grandmother in the U.S. or a mother of the disappeared in Argentina or the women who wake up early to make tortillas in refugee camps. They all weep for their children and in their compassionate tears arises the political action that changes the world. The mothers show us that it is the experience of touching the pain of others that is the key to change.”

Today’s Gospel presents such a God in Jesus who laments over the “sheep without shepherd.”

Fr. Tony’s 8-minute Homily in 1 page

ALL PEOPLE HAVE A CAPACITY FOR COMPASSION

JOURNEY OF GRACE (2:31) – We are set apart by design to love our neighbours as ourselves. Without compassion and identification as Jesus taught and modelled we cannot do fulfill the golden rule.

Mencius, a Chinese philosopher who lived several hundred years before Christ and was eager to show that there is good in everyone, said, “All people have a capacity for compassion. If people see a child about to fall into a well, they will, without exception, experience a feeling of alarm and distress. This is not because they know the child’s parents, nor out of desire for praise … nor out of dislike for the bad reputation that would ensue if they did not go to the rescue. From this we may conclude that without compassion one would not be a human being.”

Mencius was right to say that compassion is a component of true humanity, but alas, recent wars have shown us that there are also those who would as soon throw a child into a well as to pull one out. Some people are so self-occupied that they don’t even notice those who are suffering. The compassion of which we are capable needs cultivating if it is to find expression.

Following Christ is one way to nurture that characteristic. Flannery O’Connor, the insightful Catholic writer, lifted up the Christian dimension when she wrote:

“You will have found Christ when you are concerned with other people’s sufferings and not your own.”

The beginning of compassion involves becoming aware of the suffering of others. But it is not enough simply to see the suffering of others; we need to feel it.

WEEPING COMEDIAN

QUOTE FANCY (4:40) – An outstanding collection of Will Rogers’ quotes.

Will Rogers was known for his laughter, but he also knew how to weep. One day he was entertaining at the Milton H. Berry Institute in Los Angeles, a hospital that specialized in rehabilitating polio victims and people with spinal cord injuries and other extreme physical handicaps. Very soon, Rogers had everybody laughing, even patients who were paralyzed; but then he suddenly left the platform and went to the restroom. Milton Berry followed him to make sure he was all right. When he opened the door, he saw Will Rogers leaning against the wall sobbing like a child over the tragic situations he was seeing. Berry closed the door, and in a few moments Rogers appeared back on the platform as jovial as ever.

Christians are called to a ministry of compassion, and if we are faithful to it, it will cause us to weep with those who weep. Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus felt compassion for the “sheep without shepherd.” 

MICHAEL FARADAY LEFT FOR A PRAYER SERVICE

CROWN CHRISTIAN HERITAGE TRUST (2:57) – “The book of nature which we have to read is written by the finger of God.” ~ Michael Faraday From your mobile phone to your fridge freezer, we all have one man to thank for making these things possible. He discovered the explanation for the electrical phenomena and gave to the world usable electricity.

Michael Faraday was a 19th century British physicist and chemist, best known for his discoveries of electromagnetic induction (the principle behind the electric transformer and generator) and of the laws of electrolysis. His biggest breakthrough in electricity was his invention of the electric motor.

This great scientist once addressed convocation of scientists. For an hour he held the audience spellbound with his lecture on the electromagnetic induction, electrolysis, electric motor and their future applications. After he had finished, he received a thundering ovation. The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, stood to congratulate him. The applause thundered again. Just as quickly, a deadened silence pervaded the audience. Faraday had left. It was the hour of a mid-week prayer service in a little church of which he was a member.

Do we have a similar commitment? Like Faraday, have we pledged our allegiances to a Power that outlasts the short-lived fads and governments of this world? One of the reasons we gather for worship each week is for the refreshment of our spirits, the recharging of our spiritual batteries. We need to shut the world out and focus our attention on God’s presence in our lives. Jesus knew the value of getting away to a quiet place. With our families, would we put into practice what the Wall Street Journal suggested a generation ago? “What America needs … is a revival of piety – the piety of our fathers.” Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus takes the worn-out apostles to a lonely place to minister to them and giving them rest and refreshment.

BLESSED INTERRUPTIONS

KIM AVERY COACHING (1:26) – Do you have too many things to do and not enough time to do it all? Are you constantly interrupted in the middle of your important work? Watch this video for a new perspective on an ongoing problem.

Once, a man went to see a friend who was a professor at a great university. However, as they sat chatting in the professor’s office, they were continually interrupted by students who came knocking at the door, seeking the professor’s advice about something or the other. Each time the professor rose from his chair, went to the door, and dealt with the student’s request. Eventually the visitor asked the professor, “How do you manage to get your work done with so many interruptions?” “At first I used to resent the interruptions to my work. But one day it suddenly dawned on me that the interruptions were my work.” the professor replied.

He has recognized that his “work” included being available to his students first, followed by the rest: scholarship, teaching, grading papers, and committee work for the Department and University. And it was by no coincidence that he was the happiest and most fulfilled professor on the campus. He was a true shepherd caring for the sheep entrusted to his care. (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

LIFE MESSAGE FROM FR. TONY

THE CHURCH NEEDS IDEAL PASTORS

The pastor must be a man of compassion. He must be able to feel deeply the suffering of others, to understand why they fear and tremble. Pastors are also called to lead and “govern wisely” (Jer 23:5), living the teaching they communicate. They are to guide people in right paths and are to be concerned about what is right and just. Their pastoral care should be involved with the people’s needs, spiritual and material, and should provide peaceful care and guidance.

There are very many people searching for truth today, people hungering for instruction, good people who are looking for direction. They may be parents who are sick with grief over the future of a troubled child; a man stripped of his dignity by unemployment; a woman facing a pregnancy alone; elderly people who feel the surge of life diminishing in their bodies; people who are angry and confused because they have lost confidence in their leaders, whether political or religious.

They are people who are looking for answers and for meaning. They are like sheep without a shepherd. They all need ideal pastors filled with the spirit of Christ the “Good Shepherd.”

Fr. Tony’s 8-minute Homily in 1 page

ABILITY TO SLEEP PEACEFULLY

In 1964, Michael Caine and Sidney Poitier co-starred in the movie Zulu, which was shot in Kenya. They were assigned a local man to drive them around town. One night, after attending a late-night party, Michael and Sidney came out to the car and found their driver to be unconscious. No matter how hard they tried, they could not rouse him, nor could they find his pulse. They called a local doctor and reported the apparent death. After a quick examination, the irritated doctor announced that the man was only sleeping. Michael Caine protested that the man had no pulse and was impossible to wake. But the doctor explained that this is the way all people are supposed to sleep. ‘Civilized’ people, he said, who live in big, noisy cities and hold down draining, stressful jobs have lost the ability to sleep as deeply and peacefully as they should.

Maybe that doctor is right. It would be interesting to know how many of us have to take something occasionally to help us sleep. Jesus knew it was important for people to get away from time to time. His apostles had been out preaching and teaching and healing and ministering to the public. And it was Jesus who suggested that they get away from the crowds for a while and rest.

IMPORTANCE OF A BALANCED LIFE

In ancient Athens a man noticed the great storyteller Aesop playing childish games with some little boys. He laughed and jeered at Aesop, asking him why he wasted his time in such frivolous activity. Aesop responded by picking up a bow, loosening its string, and placing it on the ground.

Then he said to the critical Athenian, “Now, answer the riddle, if you can. Tell us what the unstrung bow implies.”

The man looked at it for several moments but had no idea what point Aesop was trying to make. Aesop explained, “If you keep a bow always bent, it will break eventually; but if you let it go slack, it will be more fit for use when you want it.” — Aesop was talking about balance.

As followers of Christ we need to realize that Jesus advocated balance in life too. Christianity has always been an activist Faith in which the emphasis has been on taking up the cross, laying down our life, sacrificing ourself for the cause of Christ. And certainly, that is a major part of our Faith. But it is possible to have an imbalanced Christianity. Jesus never meant for us to be so involved in doing good that we neglect our need for leisure, for rest, for family, for friends. As Vance Havner used to say: “If we don’t come apart, we’ll come apart!”

ALTAR OF THE CHAIR

AVE MARIA RADIO (3:46) – Four Things You Might nOt Know about the Chair of Peter

The Role of Pope as a Teaching Shepherd Depicted in Art

Today’s Gospel presents Jesus as the Good Shepherd for people who were like sheep without shepherd. At St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the role of Pope as a teaching shepherd is depicted very powerfully in art. At the very back of the basilica, there is one of the most famous pieces in art history. Pope Alexander VII  commissioned the great sculptor Bernini to build a sumptuous monument which would give prominence to the ancient wooden chair believed to have been used by St. Peter. Bernini built a throne in gilded bronze richly ornamented with bas-reliefs, in which the chair was enclosed: two pieces of furniture, one within the other.

View More Homily Starter Anecdotes compiled by Fr. Tony

16th Sunday of Year B

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…” (3:01) – From the 1977 production of Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth.

More Videos

GOD, LIKE A GOOD SHEPHERD, REDEEMS HIS PEOPLE AND PROVIDES FORTHEM

Our world, our society and even our Church are divided and somewhat scattered and the division is regrettable and painful. Jesus looks at us with pity as being like the people of first century Israel — scattered as were the sheep of Jeremiah’s prophecy. Paul reminds us that, like the Ephesian and Jewish converts, they who once were divided (pagan versus Jewish) have been brought together through the Blood of Christ as Christians. Individually, too, we are divided, drawn in different directions by our desires and hopes, by requests for help from others, by demands that pressure us beyond the limits of our time and energy. But the pain of reconciliation is bearable because it enables us to identify with Jesus on his cross. Today’s readings also explain how God, like a Good Shepherd, redeems His people and provides for them. They also challenge us to use our God-given authority in the family, in the Church and in society, with fidelity and responsibility.\ “Pastoral” ministry today includes not only the pastoral care given by those named or ordained as “pastors,” but the loving service given by many others who follow different callings to serve and lead others.

In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah (sixth century BC), thunders against Israel’s careless leaders – the king, some priests. and some court prophets – because they have shown no concern for the poor. The prophet also foretells the rise of a good, new shepherd in the family line of David. Then he consoles the Israelites enslaved in Babylon, assuring them that God will lead them back to their original pasture in Israel. Today’s Good Shepherd Psalm (Ps 23) affirms David’s Faith and trust in God, the “Good Shepherd.”

Today’s Good Shepherd Psalm (Ps 23) affirms David’s Faith and trust in God, the “Good Shepherd.”

The second reading introduces Jesus as the shepherd of both Jews and Gentiles and explains how Jesus, the Good Shepherd, reconciled all of us with His Father by offering Himself on the cross. Paul also speaks about another reconciliation, that between the Jews and the Gentiles, brought about by Jesus’ welcome of both into the one Christian brotherhood.

The reading from the Gospel of Mark presents Jesus as the Good Shepherd fulfilling God’s promise, given through His 6th Century BC prophet, Jeremiah, in the first reading. Here we see Jesus attending to the weary apostles, who have just returned, jubilant, from their first preaching mission, while expressing concern for the people who, like “sheep without a shepherd,” have gathered to meet their boat, landing on the Galilee shore opening into a wilderness rather than a town.

FIRST READING

First Reading – Jeremiah 23:1-6

The prophet Jeremiah lived from about 650 BC to perhaps 580 BC. Most of his work was in Judah’s capital, Jerusalem, trying to keep the people and several kings faithful to God amidst an atmosphere of political intrigue and backstabbing. Jeremiah was blunt about what was right and what was not. He suffered at the hands of the powerful because of his outspokenness. At the time of this prophecy, a good king in Judah had just been replaced by a king who allied Judah to Egypt. Jeremiah was sent by God to rage against this policy, reminding the people and the King that God’s people should trust in God, not in alliances with pagan nations. Some flattering “prophets” of the court backed the King and criticized Jeremiah. But Jeremiah remained a vigorous, courageous, outspoken man. Today we’d say Jeremiah had fire in his belly. Here he thunders on behalf of a God outraged at the powerful people’s neglect of their responsibility to the poor: “I gave you the privileges of a shepherd, you mislead and scatter the flock, I’m about to replace you, and My people will be restored!” Jeremiah assured his audience that Yahweh would give them a “new shepherd,” a new leader who would exercise Yahweh’s care and concern for His people. Jesus fulfills the prophecy of the good shepherd God promised through Jeremiah – the one who would shepherd the sheep “so that they need no longer fear and tremble,” and the Davidic king who would do what was just and right in the land. Jeremiah’s prophetic denunciation of faithless servants in the Old Testament is applicable also to our own time. All of us who exercise responsibility in various ministries in the Church, in family life and in society, are called to imitate God’s diligent, effective caring by bringing people together, leading them and showing selfless concern for the subjects we serve for God, rather than taking personal advantage of them.

SECOND READING

Second Reading – Ephesians 2:13-18

In this reading, Paul celebrates the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (first reading) of a future shepherd who would gather the dispersed and the scattered into one people of God. This passage explains how Christ has brought about reconciliation between ancient enemies, the Jews and the Gentiles. Paul says that the Jews had been “near” and the Gentiles “far off.” But by becoming Christians, those Jews, who had enjoyed God’s favor for so many generations, have now accepted Christ as the Messiah. The converted Gentiles had long been estranged from God in their worship of pagan gods,. but they, too, have now accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. Hence, as Christians, the Jewish converts and the Gentile converts are enemies no more but brothers and sisters, one in Christ. The Law of Moses “with its commandments and legal claims” was serving to separate the Jewish converts who kept it from the Gentiles who didn’t know of it and didn’t. Against the attempts by some Jewish Christians to impose the Mosaic Law on Gentile converts, Paul affirms that the Law could no longer separate God’s single people into factions.

GOSPEL READING

Gospel Reading – Mk 6:30-34

The Context

Today’s Gospel passage presents the sympathetic and merciful heart of Jesus who lovingly invites the apostles to a desolate place for some rest.  Jesus had sent his apostles on their first healing, teaching and preaching mission to prepare the people they visited for the Coming of the Promised One, Jesus. When they returned, they were no doubt exhilarated by the experience. They had witnessed at first hand the power of God’s Word through their words and the works of their hands done in Jesus’ Name.   Nonetheless, they were hungry, exhausted, and in need of rest, both physical and spiritual. In fact, Jesus was eager to hear about their missionary adventures as they proudly shared their experiences. But Jesus, too, was in need of a break from the crowds who were constantly pressing in, demanding attention and healing. Hence, he led the Apostles by boat to a “deserted place” on the other side of the Lake intending to give them all a period of rest and sharing. Today’s Gospel teaches that “the mission of the Church should be based on the Gospel of compassion we seek to live and share, from the authority of our commitment to forgiveness and reconciliation; and that leadership, inspired by the wisdom of God, means not dictating and ruling over others but inspiring, providing for and selflessly caring for those whom we are called to lead.” (Connections).


Sheep Without Shepherd

But when they came ashore there was a large crowd waiting for them. Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for those people who were “sheep without a shepherd.” Here the reference to the shepherd was probably to religious leaders, because at this time the Jews were an occupied people, and the real political power was in the hands of the pagan Romans. This brief description, “sheep without a shepherd,” is also dense with Biblical allusions. Like the people of Israel, the crowds were in the desert where they would receive not only miraculous food (next Sunday’s Gospel), but guidance and instruction, just as the Torah had been given in the desert of Sinai. “Sheep without s shepherd” will perish because a) they cannot find their way and will probably end up being eaten by a wolf or other carnivores   b) they cannot find pasture, water, and food for themselves, and c) they have no defense against the dangers which threaten them.   Jesus’ first act with these shepherd-less sheep was to teach them [v. 34] , then to feed them [vv. 35-40], and finally to protect the apostles (who were also His sheep), from the storm [vv. 45-52]. This text affirms Jesus’ extraordinary availability and his compassion for the needy. It teaches us that a Christian should be ready to sacrifice his time and even his rest in the service of the Gospel.

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