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16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, July 19, 2015

(Jeremiah 23:1-6; Ephesians 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34)

Jeremiah makes an appearance in the first reading with a warning
to the shepherds, who mislead and scatter the flock. He is referring
to Judahs kings, who have ignored their duty to the people of the land,
and whose actions led to the scattering of the people, who have been
forced into exile in Babylonia.
The blame for this exile is placed squarely on the kings, whose
behavior brought this about.
This leads to a renewed promise of a future king in the line of
David who will govern and rule wisely and who will do justice in the
land. The Lord will bring the strays back and allow them to increase
and multiply, echoing the Genesis blessing of the humans (Genesis
1:28), which was probably written about the same time as Jeremiah.
The name of the future righteous shoot to David will be The
Lord our justice. This is a play on the name of Judahs last king,
Zedekiah, when means just is Yah, a poetic abbreviation for the
divine name YHWH. The gruesome details of the end of Judah can be
found in II Kings 25.
The Ephesians reading shows how central Paul sees the
integration of Gentiles with the rest of Christians who came from
Jewish backgrounds. Paul sees this as a form of the peace of Christ
which reconciles and unites the two groups as one in Christ. Paul sees
the cross of Christ as the instrument which brings with it reconciliation
with God.
The Gospel scene comes after the apostles return from their
missionary journey. Usually they are called the Twelve or his
disciples. The word apostle only occurs twice in Mark (here and in
3:14) and it is never used in any other sense than companions of Jesus,
not as ones exercising ruling authority. They were given authority over
unclean spirits by Jesus, but no ruling authority of any kind.

We are not told what Jesus did while they were gone on their
missionary excursion but we must suppose he continued his own
teaching in other Galilean villages. When they return he invites them
to go away to a deserted place for a time to rest. It implies a place
removed from hustle and bustle of the crowds of people.
The crowds follow them from the shore and find them when they
come ashore after their boat ride. Jesus was moved to his core by the
large crowd and he saw that they were like sheep without a
shepherd. This is the only visible link with the first reading where the
shepherds were mentioned. Here the response to the description of the
crowds as like sheep without a shepherd is that Jesus began to teach
them many things (or at length).
This is all a lead-in to what will culminate in the feeding of the
many people that will begin in next weeks Gospel. In the meantime, it
is interesting that Jesus sees them shepherd-less and decides that the
antidote for that is that he teach them. The implication is that those
who are taught by Jesus have found the shepherd they were lacking. At
the same time, Jesus teaches them before all else, and in the learning
process they come to recognize their true shepherd.
Getting away for rest is a necessary thing. Jesus realized it was
necessary for himself and for his disciples. Summer usually is the
season for such rest and relaxation. Even while we rest we remain
disciples of Jesus and he remains with us even when we rest. Even the
Lord God rested on the seventh day after all the work done in creation.
Fr. Lawrence Hummer hummerl@stmarychillicothe.com