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Homilies :: Latin Rite
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Download This Homily

July 22, 2018

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


 Jer 23:1-6,

Eph 2:13-18,

Gospel MK 6:30-34


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.

 

 “ Servant-leadership”

 

In today’s first reading, through the medium of prophet Isaiah God verbalizes his disappointment and resentment towards the practice of leadership among his chosen people. He selected Israel to transform it into an archetype or norm for the rest of the human communities. Conversely, their self-serving disposition and narcissistic attitude annoyed and infuriated Yahweh. During the time of prophet Isaiah it was Zedekiah who ruled over Israel as their king. The meaning of the name Zedekiah was “Yahweh is MY Justice or MY righteousness” the emphasis is on the word MY. Zedekiah was a typical specimen of the egocentric Israel. The primary obsession of the Jewish leadership was “me, myself and I”. It is in that context prophet Isaiah announced the coming of a new leader whose name will be “Yahweh-Zedekenu”. The meaning of that name is “Yahweh is OUR justice or OUR righteousness” the emphasis here is on OUR! A drastic alteration from MY to OUR – from an elitist exclusiveness to a liberal inclusiveness. A leader in God’s perspective is not Zedekiah but Zedekenu. Yahweh’s objection and criticism against the leadership of Israel was as follows: “Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture. You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them.” God announces a new kind of leadership that he envisages and approves, which is called “Servant-leadership”. According to the mind of God, a leader is called to serve - not oneself; but others who are entrusted to him/her. Leaders should be outgoing and altruistic persons who are always ready to serve even at risk of their life. In the person of Jesus for the first time in the history of humanity we discover such a leader, a true Zedekenu, who proclaimed that he came to serve and not to be served. He is the good shepherd who sacrifices his life to save his sheep.


In his letter to the Ephesians St Paul says, “Through Christ we have access to the Spirit of the Father”. The mindset of Jesus or the spirit that moved Jesus was nothing but the Spirit of God, the true attitude or disposition of his Father. Whenever, and wherever we come across selfishness and a big ego, we can be assured of the presence of the unclean spirit or the evil spirit. The Gospel of Matthew (24:15) gives us a warning as follows: “When you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel - let the reader understand.” From this it is a clear that even holy places are not exempt from the infiltration of the unclean spirit. When we speak about holy places often we have a tendency to associate them with the churches, the sanctuaries, the Holy Land, or even the Vatican. That is a very childish and immature understanding of the holy places. First and foremost we are the holy places; we are the temples of God. It is quite easy to point our fingers at the Pope, bishops, priests, the religious and our leaders and accuse them of being led by the unclean spirit of ego-centrism. When we collect stones to throw at those who have prostituted their authority for personal gains, Jesus sadly and compassionately will look at us and say: “He who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” (Jn 8:7).


Egocentrism is a cancer that is eating into the wellbeing of our society. The only cure for this ‘abomination that causes desolation’ is the practice of “Servant-leadership” as taught and practiced by Jesus. Unless and until this happens the Kingdom of God will remain a mirage, a utopia, and a lovely fantasy. We repeat on a daily basis, often without even thinking, “Thy kingdom come”. For that to happen what is to be done? We know the answer as well: “Thy will be done on earth as it is heaven.” Yes, that is the only way. As the angels in heaven follow the will of God meticulously, here on earth too let everybody carry out the will of God. To memorize the Lord’s Prayer and to repeat it mechanically, like parrots or puppets is easy. To walk the talk is rather tough. If we say it we should mean it. If we place in our inner sanctuary our favorite idols - our ego and our will - and worship them day and night, ‘God’s kingdom will never come’. God’s agenda should occupy our inner sanctuary. Often the quintessence of our prayer is ‘God, do what I tell you – let my will be done’. As long as the king who rules our life is named Zedekiah and not Zedekenu, everything will be centered on “me, myself and I”. In today’s Gospel we see how a true Zedekenu will act. Jesus and his disciples were utterly exhausted and were very much in need of rest and relaxation. They escaped to the other side of the lake. However, upon disembarking Jesus saw a crowd waiting for him. Soon Jesus forgot his tiredness and went out to help them: Let us hear that passage once again: “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.” That is servant-leadership in pracitce. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear” (Mk 4:9).


Dr Kurian Perumpallikunnel CMI


Homilies Navchetana Apps, the first of its kind is produced and published by Navchetana Communications, Bhopal, India to assist the clergy to preach the World of God and also as a handy spiritual resource for the people of God to reflect on the daily spiritual passages at their convenience. You can download this on your Android phone from Google play and you can see the Gospel reflections of the whole year. The size of this app is just 2.5 MB. We welcome your suggestions and contributions to server you better.

May God Bless you

Fr. James M L CMI

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Homilies Navchetana is an initiative of Navchetana Communications, Bhopal, India. We have been sending the Sunday and daily homilies last four years. We are grateful to you for your cooperation and encouraging comments. Navchetana is committed to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ through modern media and performing arts. Through our Web TV, audio and video productions and stage programmes we take the Gospel message to the ends of the earth. Make a donation and be a part of this noble mission.


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