Sunday, yesterday, was the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
The gospel reading, the controlling element of the Liturgy of the Word, came from Mark’s Gospel, and concludes the story of the disciples being sent on mission. Now they return and all seems to have gone well.
The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat.
So they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But people saw them going, and many could guess where; and from every town they all hurried to the place on foot and reached it before them.
So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.
Sheep without a shepherd, stirred to move, move, it can seem at least to us, in a panic, confused, rushing swirling swiftly, careless of dangers ahead, careless of any sense of direction or purpose other than wanting to move away from this or that.
The shepherd can calm, collect and safeguard the sheep, restoring to them at least a semblance of purpose and security.
So here with Jesus the crowd rushes, and Mark encourages to imagine a large crowd (many, all, from every town) gathered and gathering. A crowd? A mob more like. But to Jesus sheep without a shepherd. He doesn’t dismiss them as celebrity chasers, miracle hunters, but embraces them as needing his teaching. So his teaching they will receive.
- What draws you to Jesus?
- What has Jesus taught you recently?
Image from Abbey of St Victor, Marseille. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.