17th sunday in ordinary time
25th July 2021
Year B – Psalter week 1
As we enter the summer holiday season one line in our gospel seemed particularly relevant and can be easily missed: ‘Jesus said to them, “Make the people sit down”’. We know that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who leads us to still and refreshing waters. The people following him were tired and hungry, and so he seeks to meet their physical needs as well as their spiritual needs. Part of his good shepherding is to get them to first sit down and to take a rest.
I don’t know about you, but I have found the transition of coming out of lockdown quite difficult. During lockdown, the pace of life slowed down, and it was a chance to take stock. The frenetic way of life many of us had become accustomed to, all of a sudden came to a halt. Of course for others, life continued as full on as before, if not even busier. Here I think of front line workers such as nurses, for example. But I think probably for the majority of people, life slowed down. This, of course, brought its own challenges, such as home schooling, for example, or isolation for people living alone. Nevertheless, there was something in our normal flow of life being halted in its tracks that caused us to stop and reflect.
During lockdown, we became accustomed to doing things a different way. A lot of things went online. As a parish we tried to communicate via the website, and we gradually began online Masses. Many other meetings took place online too. Many of us had to get used to a different way of doing things and put things in place that could help us to continue as best we could.
All of a sudden, we have been released from those restrictions, and this takes time to adjust to. At times I have felt busier than ever, as we meet not only in person, but all the online meetings established during lockdown continue too. There is a danger of reverting to the frenetic pace of life prior to Coronavirus, or to an even more frenetic pace of life! We need to guard against this.
Times of rest and relaxation are essential for all of us. We were not created to be ‘doing’ all the time. We are created as human ‘beings’, not human ‘doings’. Work is essential and dignified because it is a sharing in God’s creativity, but we are not created only to work. Interestingly, the number for the devil in the Book of Revelation is 666. God did all his work of creation in six days, and rested on the seventh day, the Sabbath rest. The implication here is that evil never enters into God’s rest and seeks to stop us from entering into that rest. It is of concern that in modern times work hours have increased, jobs have become more demanding, and the Sabbath rest has been eroded with Sunday treated like any other day.
But the Sabbath rest is exactly what God created us for in order that we may enter into the rest of His love and peace. So important is it, that the keeping of the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments. In the spiritual life it is essential that we take times of rest in our day and in our week to spend with God, with our loved ones, and with our community. For those who have to work on Sundays, the call is to try and find other times in the week to take the Sabbath rest. As Jesus invites his followers today, all of us need at times to ‘sit down’, to rest in his presence, and to allow him to serve us. This is exactly, of course, what happens at Mass. We come together as God’s family for our Sabbath rest, and we allow Jesus to feed us with his Word and with the Eucharist.
2 Kings 4:42-44
They will eat, and have some left over.
You open wide your hand, O Lord, and grant our desires.
One Body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God.
The feeding of the five thousand.
Sunday Message and Look
Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life; you have the message of eternal life.