Homily Sixteenth Sunday Year B Compassion of Jesus

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Homily Sixteenth Sunday Year B

Reading 1: Jeremiah reminds the people of his day why they would be sent into exile. At the same time, he tells them that God will bring them back to the Promised Land
The reason they are being overcome by their enemies and sent into exile is because they have had unfaithful shepherds and leaders, whom they have followed into being unfaithful to their covenant with God. Their leaders did not care for God’s people, but only for themselves.

Therefore, God will become their shepherd. He will punish the false shepherds and unfaithful leaders. But he will bring back his exiled people to the land of milk and honey. God will appoint shepherds who will be faithful and true to their call. 

Then Jeremiah prophetically reminds the people of God’s constant promise of a Savior. Jeremiah speaks of a righteous shoot of David, one who would do what is just and right; one who will save the people—the Lord our Justice.

The people at the time were thinking “we have had wicked kings, now God will give us a good and faithful king, who will lead us according to the law of God.”  From the time of the early Church, Jesus has been seen to be the one who was spoken of by Jeremiah: the just and holy One of the house of David, who has save, not only the Israelites but all mankind. Jesus is the Lord, our justice.

Reading 2: The theme of salvation through Jesus is picked up in this reading. Paul recognizes that Jesus, not only save the Jews, but he also saved the Gentiles. All of us were far away—separated from God—because of our sins. Earlier in the Letter to the Ephesians, Paul said that we deserved the wrath of God. But God, rich in mercy, has forgiven our sins through the blood of Christ.

Before then, there was not only a great divide between humanity and God, but a great divide between Jews and Gentiles. But Christ, as our Lord of Justice, has destroyed the cause of that divide. He has reconciled us back to God and has united as through his death in the waters of baptism as brothers and sisters, no longer Jews or Gentiles.

Those who were near were the Jews. Those far off were the Gentiles. Now, no longer separated from the Father because of sin, we have access in the Holy Spirit through Jesus to the Father. Is there division between ourselves and someone else? How can we remain divided and separated after what Jesus has done?

Gospel: What is the connection with the first reading? Jesus saw the desperate state of affairs expressed in the desire of the people who sought his ministry. They were like sheep without a shepherd. In the first reading God chastised those who failed to shepherd his people. He said he would shepherd them and send a shepherd to provide for them in his name.

As Jesus taught them and healed them, he was providing the nourishment they were desperately seeking. Jesus desires to do the same for us. But only if we are truly hungering and thirsting for him, seeking him no matter the cost. The people hastened on foot to where they thought Jesus would be. Jesus himself said “I am the good shepherd, leading my sheep and proving for them.”

The second point in the Gospel is seen in the way Jesus shepherds the shepherds, his apostles. They had been ministering with him and he could see that they were drained. They didn’t have time to eat in peace without being disturbed with the needs of the people.  Jesus shepherds them by trying to provide respite, some down time to be refreshed and be restored.

When do we take some spiritual downtime for ourselves from the business of our daily life? When was the last time we took a day or a half a day to be still and alone with the Lord? When was the last time we took a few days for a silent retreat? I know we can all say we don’t have time, we have too much to do. But are those excuses to prevent us from facing ourselves with God, from being alone with God, who wants to refresh us.
Hear again the words of Jesus. “Come to me all who are heavily burden and I will refresh you. Take upon you my yoke which is easy and light.” What are our priorities? Even each day, how much time alone with God do we make happen? It is in those times that Jesus can better minister to us.

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