Jesus Christ is our peace and rest. He is with us to gather those whom the bad shepherds have scattered, misled and driven apart.
The apostles gather together with Jesus. They tell him how they have fulfilled the task he gave them. The Teacher, for his part, sees that they are tired. Hence, he invites them to rest.
To rest, yes, for to do so is to admit also that succes is up to God. He sees to the good of the workers in the great harvest while they rest (SV.EN XI:33; Ps 127, 2).
But the crowd does not even give them the chance to eat. That is why they go off in the boat by themselves to a deserted and quiet place.
And by getting his missionaries to gather together to rest, Jesus is like the master in Lk 12, 37. This is the master that makes his watchful servants sit down to eat; he waits on them. They have done all their tasks. And he does not say they are worthless servants (Lk 17, 10).
But there will be no rest for Jesus’ missionaries. For it turns out that a huge crowd has gone ahead of them to the place where they have just landed. Jesus sees the crowd and takes pity on them; they are like sheep with no shepherd.
Yet Jesus does not let the crowd bother, disappoint or annoy him. Yes, he pities the scattered and have no direction. This is so since mercy, which is the Father’s distinctive trait, is also his distinctive trait (SV.EN XI:328; EG 37). And such mercy is not only a question of feelings but also of deeds. He does not show mercy with words but with deeds (see 1 Jn 3, 17-18; Jas 2, 16). So then, he starts to teach them many things.
We gather around the person of Jesus so that we may take care as he of people’s needs.
But there is no mention of concrete teachings. And that is just as well, for what counts most of all is the person of Jesus. For quite often we obsess over imposing so many teachings that we lose sight of the Teacher. Of the one who embodies the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy and faith (Mt 23, 23). Of the one who teaches that the Sabbath was made for people and not people for the Sabbath (Mk 2, 27).
We gather around Jesus, yes, so that there may be a personal meeting between him and us. For to be a Christian is to meet him in person (EG 3. 7). He “gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” And we learn from him the way to help with zeal and respect those in need (SV.EN XII:77).
Besides, if we do not fail to gather together with Jesus, he will make us catch his love. Then, his reason to be will be ours. And he has come to serve, give his body up and shed his blood, and gather the scattered (Jn 11, 51-52). He does not seek to have raw power but to be a good shepherd.
And Jesus’ missionaries who gather together with him find true rest. For, yes, they will stay restless till they rest in the one who has sent them. He will be for them the deserted and quiet place. Even in the midst of their work and in the face of many challenges.
Lord Jesus, gather us so that we may not end up scattered and without direction like sheep with no shepherd.
18 July 2021
16th Sunday in O.T. (B)
Jer 23, 1-6; Eph 2, 13-18; Mk 6, 30-34