July 18, 2021 — Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
JER 23:1-6; PS 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6; EPH 2:13-18; MK 6:30-34
Today’s readings remind us of how our God is compassionate and passionately loves us.
“Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the Lord.” Our First Reading from the prophet Jeremiah addresses false prophets who had misled God’s people away from the Lord. Jeremiah was outraged and fought against these prophets. The Lord declares that He will restore His people by bringing back those who have gone astray and providing for them new shepherds so that they will “no longer fear and tremble.”
This reading portrays God’s infinite care and concern for our lives. We can see that God is the one who loved us first. He pursues us constantly. Oftentimes, we are like the people who are blind to His goodness and enticed by sin — something we think will make us happy but does not. God is the one who constantly pursues us and gives us opportunities to say “yes” to Him. He wants to win us back, and ultimately, He will make us happy.
So now we must ask ourselves, who or what is blinding us or leading us away from our ultimate happiness? Stop for a moment and name that thing — money, status, a person, career, laziness, addiction, self-image, health, etc. — that could be leading you away from a more full and happy relationship with God.
As Christian disciples, deep down we really know that our true happiness is God. So, what are we waiting for? Take the leap of faith and allow yourself to radically love God in return.
Our Gospel echoes what our First Reading proclaims as masses of people seek Jesus and the apostles. The apostles were exhausted from all the work they had done in Jesus’ name — “they had no opportunity even to eat.”
Jesus tried to seek solitude for the apostles to recuperate from their work, yet the masses of people kept coming after them. Upon seeing this, it says, “his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like a sheep without a shepherd.”
Wherever we are at this point in our lives — following a false shepherd, like in our First Reading, or aimlessly going through life with no shepherd or direction — Jesus is ready to shepherd us. His compassionate heart is ready to guide us. He has been waiting.
So, let us learn from the masses of people in our Gospel today. If we are having trouble of letting go of that “thing” that we think will make us happy or we aren’t sure where to even start in becoming an intentional disciple of Jesus Christ, simply seek Jesus. Seek Him in daily prayer, frequent reception of the sacraments, and through reading the Scriptures. If we can do that, surely, He will be “moved with pity” for us and teach us many things.
As we begin this new week, let us name the things in our lives that are robbing us of our ultimate happiness, work to let go of them, and let us strive to make Jesus our true shepherd by seeking Him in our daily lives.