16th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Fr. Rick Sherman July 18, 2021
Jer 23:1-6; Ps 23:1-6; Eph 2:13-18; Mk 6:30-34
As mentioned in my introductory remarks, when Jesus sends the apostles out to proclaim the Kingdom of God, He is inviting them to an actual personal experience of the Kingdom of God. Calling them to the REST was an essential part of the mission. When reviewing these Scriptures during the week I was trying to reflect on how I have experienced the Kingdom of God during my life. What does that actually mean to us still ‘trapped’ in the planet earth experience?
In oral presentation of homily I explained differences between being in the Church as a seminarian and priest contrasted with my more ‘regular guy’ experience as a lay person the first 20 years of my adult life.
- People disclosing personal stories after just a few moments of conversation
- Easy entrance into another culture such as immersion experience in Mexico
- Being encouraged to do deeper thinking (rather than it being an annoyance) and taking time out to pray (several times from Scripture) every day.
In today’s gospel Jesus invites the apostles, those who were sent out, to come with Him and rest. This rest is like the rest experienced by God on the seventh day after creating the world in ‘six day’. This rest is a part of the great Divine action of creation as well as God’s personal presence and care for the world. The six days of creation was not just a lot of exhausting work that left God in need of a much deserved day off, but it was a day of contemplation of the very grandeur of what was taking place.
When Jesus calls the apostles to rest after having been sent out to do the Lord’s work, He is inviting them into the larger experience of participating in the very ongoing work of God’s creation and redemption of the world. Sure the work they were doing with the people did require lots of energy and effort, but it was a special type of work that was only possible because they participated in the Lord’s power and authority. This contemplative rest is the opportunity to enter into a genuine intimacy with God and with each other. Again since Jesus and the apostles were busy about proclaiming the Kingdom of God, that inherently meant that they were actually experiencing the Kingdom of God as well.
Jesus and the apostles already had a foot in Heaven so to speak when they were doing God’s work. Later they would all join in the Passover meal when Jesus instituted the Eucharist. Jesus would die, resurrect and ascend back to Heaven and then send the Holy Spirit which more fully empowered the disciples (and all of us) to participate in all the power and authority of Heaven. Recall that Jesus came to give us the fullness of life. He did not come to just help us to cope with life’s many difficult and challenging circumstances. In fact, when we participate at the Mass, any Mass, we are actually participating in eternal time. Sacraments are physical signs that point to a mystery that we cannot fully see. Sacraments also effect the mystery of God’s love and God’s kingdom, but this experience is usually just a small taste of what is to come in Heaven.
This all seems so nice, but there is also an awesome responsibility that goes with the Kingdom of God; the responsibility of teaching others to untangle themselves from the worldly allusion of human power. This requires repentance and obedience to God’s commandments and to God’s mission for the Church. Recall that Jesus called the apostles to this ‘rest’ after they had been out doing his work and teaching the people.
By virtue of our baptism and our subsequent calls to Holy Orders, Matrimony, the Religious Life or Consecrated Single Life, the sacraments lead us into the deeper experience of contemplation, intimacy with God…the Kingdom of God. It’s not a ‘cakewalk’ for anyone, but when we take time out to rest in this larger biblical sense, we remember that this is God’s world, not ours. Regardless of our vocation it’s only when our efforts are aligned with God’s plan do we ever find any genuine sense of true ‘rest’; a true ‘shelter from the storm’ as Bob Dylan might say.
Perhaps the takeaway today could be to reflect on the questions:
How am I taking the proper type of rest in my day-to-day life?
What happens when I avoid the rest that Jesus is calling me to?