Come Away

(Homily for Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B)

Bottom line: Jesus invites us to connect with the Source of all riches.

Most of us have a mistaken idea about what constitutes wealth. We assume that wealth simply means the possession of money (or its equivalent - stocks, real estate deeds, etc.). If I had a suitcase full of one hundred dollar bills, most people would consider me wealthy. Not necessarily so. Stranded on a desert island, those millions of dollars would do me no good.

Wealth is not merely having a lot of money; rather, it depends on being part of a web of social relationships: stores, restaurants, law courts, police forces, banks, schools, etc.. The web extends even beyond our planet. Books like Rare Earth and Privileged Planet have pointed out that the things required for life (water, air, seasons, moderate temperatures) depend on earth's delicate relationship with the sun and the moon. The giant outer planets protect us from cosmic disasters. And the position of the solar system within our galaxy and our galaxy's relation to the rest of the universe made possible the emergence of heavier elements such as iron, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen. So, ultimately the value of every dollar derives from our relationship to other people and even extraterrestrial bodies.

That insight, that riches come from relationships, is crucial to understanding the teachings of Jesus. Today Jesus takes that insight to its ultimate conclusion. He tells his disciples to "come away...and rest awhile." After intense apostolic activity which involved stripping themselves of wealth, he now invites them to a deserted place where they can touch the source of riches.

Last Sunday I told you about the foolish boar who greedily devoured acorns without recognizing their source. The oak tree had to speak and tell the boar to lift up his head. Jesus asks us to do the same this Sunday. Suppose the entire cosmos is an acorn. Should we not lift our heads and see the Oak Tree from which it dropped? For that reason Jesus tells us to come away to a deserted place and rest awhile.

Only by connecting with the Source of power, can we be effective Christians. We have to spend time praying. We don't necessarily need to become Trappist monks, like one of my classmates is doing, but we must find time alone with God. St. John Vianney spent hours before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. When people asked him what he was doing, he said, "I look at Him and He looks at me." John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, used to get up at four in the morning so he could begin his day with two hours of prayer.

Now, I am no John Wesley, but I know if I don't get up early, I will not have much time for prayer. You know, we expend a lot of effort trying to get ahead financially. I admit that if I thought someone was going to make a major donation to the parish, I would find time to meet with him. How much more should you and I find time to meet with the Source of all riches!

As pastor of Holy Family, I am proud of how many of you make time to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. To those who have not done so, I would like to encourage you to give it a try this summer. You might be surprised by the results. Our Adoration Chapel is open twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. We especially need people who will give an hour during those quiet early morning and mid afternoon times. The invitation Jesus made to his disciples, he makes to each one of us: "Come away..." to a place apart "and rest a while."

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Spanish Version

Final Version

From Archives (16th Ordinary Sunday - Year B):

2018: Ephesians Week 2: He is Our Peace
2015: Building on Strength Week 3: Sacrament of Reconciliation
2012: The Way to Heaven
2009: Rest a While
2006: Come Away
2003: I Will Appoint Shepherds
2000: Leisure: A Misunderstood Activity

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A helpful book for homilists and other public speakers: The Sir Winston Method: The Five Secrets of Speaking the Language of Leadership by James Humes (although currently out of print, this fine book is available at libraries)

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