Sixteenth Sunday in
A Homily - Cycle B - 2011-2012
by Fr. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Jeremiah 23:1-6
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
Second Reading - Ephesians 2:13-18
Gospel - Mark 6:30-34
Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.
The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
Rome was a very glorious place to live, but did you know it could be funny too? I would often be in St. Peter’s Square, in the looming shadow of St. Peter’s Basilica itself, waiting to meet fellow Arlington people or friends or give a tour, when another tourist would walk up and ask me, “Excuse me, are you a priest?” “No sir, I’m just a seminarian.” “Well, you look like you can help me - - - I’m looking for St. Peter’s Basilica.” Some things we think ANYONE knows, and then we’re proven wrong! Perhaps Jesus felt this way, as his heart was moved with pity for the crowd as they flocked before the Good Shepherd Himself, yet they do not realize who they are with, for they are like sheep WITHOUT a shepherd.
So, normally we preach on the 1st reading, 2nd reading, or Gospel, but today’s the day to look at the Responsorial Psalm. The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.
There’s a story, about a renowned orator who was invited to a social function in England. He recited poetry, Shakespeare, all sorts of beautiful pieces. He then asked if the crowd had any requests - - - an elderly priest stood up and asked, “Sir, could you please recite the 23rd psalm?” The actor replied, “yes, Father, as long as you recite if after me.” The priest agreed reluctantly. The actor proceeded to recite the Psalm perfectly, flawlessly. The audience was spellbound. As he finished, all the guests applauded. Then, the aged minister was challenged to recite it as well. He stood up, and began to slowly recite the psalm, with a voice that was cracked from years of ministry, in words that were not perfect. When he finished and sat down, there was no applause. There was silence. There were no dry eyes in the room. Many heads were bowed in reverence. Finally, the actor rose to his feet, and with great emotion, said, “Friends, I have reached your eyes and ears. But this priest has reached your hearts. I know the PSALM of the Good Shepherd - - - but HE KNOWS THE SHEPHERD!!!”
We know many things in our lives - - - success, well-being, comfort, fun times. But do we know the Shepherd? We know how to cook, balance a checkbook, play a football game, play the stock market - - - but do we know the Shepherd? We know spouses, family, friends - - - BUT DO WE KNOW THE SHEPHERD?
That old priest, who, from what I’ve heard, was a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, was able to touch people’s hearts. He knew from experience that, with His Lord, he would never TRULY be wanting. He knew that, with Christ the Shepherd, he would find TRUE peace. And even if he should walk in the valley of darkness, uncertainty and evil, he would not be afraid, because GOD would always be at his side. And he probably knew that every person in that reception hall needed the God Shepherd in the same way, whether they consciously realized it or not. Yes, every once in a while, we NEED to come away and rest a while, in order to remember how much our plethora of knowledge ultimately boils down to ONE thing - - - do we know the Shepherd?
How sad it is, that there are many who do NOT know Him. What are they doing? They’re searching. They’re suffering. They’re lost, like sheep. Where do you see them? At the checkout. At the Metro. In the movies. Perhaps at home! They’re searching, they’re hungry, they’re lost. We all see them often - - - we likely KNOW at least one or two of them. Are we going to let them stay in the dark? I hope not. Jesus is about to give us something HUGE in the upcoming readings these next few weeks - - - and the Shepherd wants His sheep, ALL his sheep, to listen!
I pray we fulfill the longing of Jesus’ heart, and our OWN mission, to help these people (especially the one YOU KNOW) to meet the Shepherd. The laity (That’s you guys) have been blessed by the Lord to help others find Jesus - - - we NEED your help! By praying with the lost sheep. By inviting them. By loving them. For you KNOW them, those family and/or friends who are yearning for the Shepherd. You also know Him, whose Heart burns to have them back. How are the lost going to find their Shepherd? The answer is coming - - - as soon as He sends you forth at the end of this Mass.