Gospel Reflection for 16th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B – July 19th 2015
Full scripture for this Sunday is available on the Catholic Ireland website. Daily Scripture is also available. Our parish Prayers of the Faithful for this Sunday are made available on the Dublin Diocesan website.
The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. So they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But people saw them going, and many could guess where; and from every town they all hurried to the place on foot and reached it before them. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.
In Jesus’ time the shepherd was a well-known and relevant person. The example of sheep being lost was not lost on the people he spoke to. He spoke of himself as a shepherd.
Smell of the Sheep
Pope Francis made headlines by saying that pastors should know the ‘smell of the sheep’. It means that in our Christian communities we would know the needs, frustrations, poverty, hopes and the dreams of people. Also that we might know and accept people at their worst. Sheep don’t smell good!
Pope Francis also speaks of parishes as ‘islands of mercy’. Our Christian places need to be homes where the God of mercy can meet his people. The church reaches out to the real messiness and injustices of society and ordinary life. It is not a place of the elite of God but of ordinary sinful people trying to do their best for their families, their pupils, their parishioners and themselves.
The motive for this is compassion. This is how Jesus reached out to them. This is to be the mark of the true Christian family, community and the individual Christian.
Compassion is the willingness to walk in the shoes of another person, to try and understand the joys and sorrows of their lives and their hopes. For some life is a constant battle to survive. It is for these especially that the church – the body of Christ – now exists.
Donal Neary SJ