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16th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Rest and Renewal

“The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:30-34).

When the apostles returned from their first missionary journey, they had much to report to Jesus. He responded with such care, inviting them to “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). However, when they arrived at the deserted place to rest, they were faced with a crowd. They decided to forgo their rest, and Jesus responded to the people as a shepherd would respond to his lost sheep.

Jesus set two examples in this Gospel: his invitation to come away and rest, and his selfless response to the crowds who had sought them out.

Today’s Gospel finds us in the middle of summer – a good time to pause and catch our breath. Finding the balance between knowing when to attend to our own needs and when to care for others is not easy.

Ministering to God’s people can be both rewarding and exhausting. Whether we are lay or ordained, volunteer or paid, actively participating in the life of the Church requires commitment and energy. To live the Paschal Mystery is to enter into the rhythm of dying and rising in our everyday lives. To live this rhythm in the reality of our lives, it is important that we listen to the voice of the Shepherd to discern when it is time to do the good works and when it is time to rest.

How do you maintain a balance between ministering to others’ needs and taking the necessary time for rest and prayer?

Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store

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