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16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B
Reading 1 JER 23,1-6 Psalm 22/23 Reading 2 EPH 2,13-18 Gospel MK 6,30-34
Even to Jesus happened some inconvenience! He wanted to retire in a solitary place in order to let his disciples rest, just came back from their first mission. And now they did not even have time to eat, so great was the crowd which wanted to get closer to listen to him. It had become impossible to Him, because many people arrived at the place which should have been deserted, and Jesus with the apostles found themselves surrounded by the crowd. Even this situation became an occasion to show His true identity. Therefore, He could have been recognised as the “true king” who the prophets were talking about, in particular Jeremiah, the king promised to David by God himself: “I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land”.
He will be a king who guides the people like a shepherd, a shepherd worried for the wellbeing of his sheep. Through the same prophet God promises to personally care for His people, as a Good Shepherd is caring for the lost sheep, incapable to defend themselves and to reach the pasture. Each one of them will be object of his care, so much so that “none shall be missing”. So now Jesus is this shepherd: He is God, He is the hand, the voice and the eye of God who is taking care of His people. In the deserted place, where the disciples could have been resting, now finds solace the crowd. Here everybody meets the presence and the word of Jesus, which feeds them, shines light upon them, guides them, supports them, nurtures them, makes them feel loved by the Father, surrounded by His loving attentions.
The Psalm answering the first reading is helping us to express our faith in God, shepherd who Jesus makes visible and tangible the presence of, and effective His care for us. We are not afraid of anything, we hold steadfast the hope and certainty of a future of happiness, because God is with us. We cannot doubt it, because the Lord Jesus has offered his life for this and shared his Spirit.
Saint Paul is showing us a particular aspect of the Lord’s care. He, with His death, has made the law complete, has filled it with the Father’s love. He has filled it and made it complete so much so that the apostle can say that Jesus has even abolished it: it is so filled with love that it does not seem the same anymore. Therefore, for us it is not a burden anymore: before Jesus lived it, it was generating division between Jews and pagans, between the chosen people and all the other peoples. Now we are saved because of the faith in Him, and not because we are following rules and particular instructions, already all observed and made complete by Him.
Both Jews and pagans are saved thanks to Jesus’ blood. So, he is our peace: in front of him every division crumbles. Animosity, which was separating the Jews from the pagans, thanks to Jesus is gone. He has reconciled everybody, both, with God, renewing our consciences. The work He has done is great.
Today we do not even know, if we do not have to deal with the Jews, these divisions and differences: however, we know many others created by different cultures and a different selfishness. We know social differences, cultural, religious, racial, political etc. So, our Lord Jesus, where He is welcomed and loved, makes again disappear every division and any animosity between different groups of humans, tribes, peoples, different groups. When we follow him comes easy and obvious to welcome as a brother anybody who is a disciple of His, nay, we can see every man in a good light, because Jesus is looking for all of them in order to give them His love and His joy.
We are retiring out of the spotlight in order to be with Jesus face to face, in order to rest with Him: we will discover that all of those who are surrounding us are loved and welcomed by him, even if they are not ready and they have not decided yet to be His. It is a great gift to be able to retire aloof in order to be with Jesus: by cultivating the intimacy with Him we become a tool of His love for many.