16th Sunday (Note & Bulletin)

​The closest I have ever been to a completely chaotic situation was at the end of a very violent week in Jamaica in 2010.  The police and army would not allow people to leave their homes for a number of days.  This meant that families had little food since they tended to shop daily.  The Red Cross came with a truckload of food and began to distribute it.  Soon the word got around town that that there was food at the church.  A large crowd gathered, people were yelling, most were jockeying for position to get closer to the truck and some were fighting.  It got so bad that the Red Cross had to call the military come and reassert some order.  On that day, the people of West Kingston were “like sheep without a shepherd.”  When I think back to that day, I remember that so many felt as if they had been forgotten by almost everyone.  They felt as if they were on their own.  Feeling alone led them to feel neglected and so they frantically fought to get food.  They were hungry and scared.  I think this feeling of being neglected, of being alone and the worry of being forgotten is something to which most of us can relate.  When I think of our faith lives, I notice that we can all, on occasion, act as if we are truly alone, that we are neglected and forgotten, even by God.  As a result, we can act as if it’s “every man for himself.”  And yet we also know that that feeling is misguided, it has no foundation.  For the “Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.”

​In this Sunday’s gospel, we see Jesus and the Apostles trying to retreat “to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”  But the Lord saw a “great crowd; and he had compassion for them.”  Our lives are complex and not so easy.  Lots of us have daily struggles; lots of us feel unseen in our world; and, lots of us do not believe we can keep carrying the burdens placed on us.  Life feels less sweet and joyful, and bitterer and like some thing to be endured.  Though this may be a feeling we have, we must not forget who God is – Jesus “had compassion for them.”  This means that God never has and never will forget about any of us.  God will never leave us to “sink or swim.”  God will not neglect us.  God is moved by the love that God is and reaches out to us in all our needs.  Saint Paul writes of this in Ephesians.  He says that we are not “far off” from God, but we “have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”  His “blood” is the most concrete revelation of who we are in God’s eyes – we are everything to God.  Each of you, in your own way, is so loved by God that he gave his very self in Christ on the Cross.  When we know this in our hearts, not merely in our heads, what comes so strongly and gently into our souls?  “For he is our peace,” St. Paul writes.  The peace that we can all know through his grace is the heart knowledge of God’s love for each of us.  In Christ we can see the face of the father a little bit more clearly.  And the face of the Father is the face of love for you.  “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my heard with oil; my cup overflows.”

God Bless and Take Care!

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