Rest a While

(Homily for Sixteenth Ordinary Sunday, Year B)

Bottom line: After resting, a follower of Jesus does not go looking for distractions. Rather we return to Jesus, to reflect on what happened and to ask, What next?

Thank you for the reception last Sunday. I appreciate your thoughtful cards - and gifts to help me get started in Monroe. And thank you for the treats and toys for Samwise! This week he has been the luckiest dog in Monroe.

We saw in the homily last Sunday how Jesus sent the Twelve Apostles with a message of repentance.* For those who accepted the message and began to pray, it opened the floodgates of God's grace. The hearers received two great blessings: Physical healing (by anointing with oil) and liberation from demons.

Today we see the Apostles returning to Jesus with reports about what happened. After listening to them, Jesus does something beautiful. He takes them apart to "rest a while." The importance of this time of rest was brought home to me by one of our priests: Fr. Tom Beattie. Fr. Beattie recently passed away after sixteen years of service. He was a widower who had raised six children. I remember my first conversation with Fr. Beattie, shortly after his ordination. I asked about his experience as priest. He said to me, "Phil, I worked hard all my life as an electrician. I thought the priesthood would be easy by comparison - only a few hours on Sunday morning." Then he looked at me serious and said, "You know, I was never so tired as when I finished those Masses and conversation with the people." It had an intensity he had not experienced before, leaving him both exhilarated and exhausted. Once his daughter had invited him to Sunday evening dinner, but he told her he wanted to be alone - obviously to rest, but also to reflect on everything that had happened.

When Jesus speaks about resting a while, he doesn't mean, turn into a couch potato. To rest with Jesus is dynamic. It can of course include some sleep. Sleep is God's gift to restore our minds, our bodies and our emotions. Shakespeare puts it this way:

"...innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.

Sleep, rest, is a marvelous, mysterious gift from God. But, after resting, a follower of Jesus does not go looking for distractions. Rather we return to Jesus, to reflect on what happened and to ask, What next?

The answer comes quickly. If you do the job well, you will be rewarded with more work! What we see today is a vast crowd coming to Jesus. You can imagine how the Apostles felt: At first the sight thrilled them, but very quickly they got scared - What are we going to do with all these people?

Well, we will find out next Sunday. Today's Gospel sets the stage for Jesus' greatest revelation. It is so important that we will spend five Sundays on it. Please do not miss a single Sunday.

************

*Repentance means to take responsibility for ones life. It is not a negative, beating up on oneself. On the contrary, by repentance a person stops being a victim and starts taking ownership.

General Intercessions for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B (from Priests for Life)

Spanish Version

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

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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