XVI Ordinary Sunday
Come with me to a lonely place
And he began to teach them many things.
This Sunday the Gospel presents us with the continuation of the Missionary sending of last week. At first glance, the story is so well understood that there is no need to comment on it.
Today, “the constant novelties of technological resources, the attractiveness of travel, the innumerable offers for consumption, sometimes do not leave empty spaces where the voice of God resounds. Everything is filled with words, epidermal joys and noises with ever greater speed. Joy does not reign there, but the dissatisfaction of those who do not know what they live for. How can we not recognize then that we need to stop this frantic race to recover a personal space, sometimes painful but always fruitful, where sincere dialogue with God is established? At some point we will have to face our own truth, to allow it to be invaded by the Lord… Thus we find the great motivations that drive us to fully live our own tasks ”(Gaudate et Exsultate 29).
The solution is to find "a deserted place." This reference to the desert is fundamental in the story, because it evokes the situation of the people of Israel on their way from Egypt to the promised land. So, in the desert, he was fed by God. Now, in a deserted place, the new people of God will be fed by Jesus.
When they approach the shore and he sees the crowd gathered, he does not tell Pedro to row out to sea and find another place. He feels compassion for them because he sees them abandoned. Jesus sees the need of the people, it hurts him that they are disoriented like sheep without a shepherd, and he feels a deep compassion for them and gives up legitimate rest, not to perform miracles but to teach. Only later will he worry about feeding them. And what does he teach them? Jesus teaches them to live as children of God and as brothers; he teaches them the transcendent meaning of life; he teaches them to live the daily life with God and according to God.
Here is the first bread that the Messiah offers to the disciples and to his Church that he leads to "a deserted place": the bread of the Word. All of us are in need of words of truth to guide us and to illuminate our path. The Holy Word that can only be correctly interpreted in the face of the brothers, especially those who suffer and are in need like sheep without a shepherd. Without this truth, which is Christ himself, it is not possible to find the correct orientation in life.
When we distance ourselves from Jesus and his love and his word, when we close our eyes to the need of our brother and turn our back on him, we lose ourselves, and existence is transformed into disappointment and dissatisfaction. With Jesus and your brother at your side, you can proceed safely, you can overcome tests, advance in love for God and your neighbor. Jesus became a gift to others, thus becoming a model of love and service for each one of us.
Let us ask ourselves, do we feel the same interest in Jesus? Are we running after him, or do we prefer to sit comfortably at home?
But we must also ask ourselves, especially those of us who have a responsibility to the community: Do I feel compassion for people, or do I try to get out of the way when they are going to spoil my well-deserved rest?
Many missionaries and catechists will be comforted to see that although we cannot perform miracles like Jesus, we could devote our efforts and our time to teaching the gospel.
+Faustino Armendáriz Jiménez
OMCC Ecclesiastical Advisor