Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Jeremiah 23:1-6
Ephesians 2:13-18
Mark 6:30-34

Change of Plans

In the first reading from Jeremiah we are told that God “will appoint shepherds for [the people] who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; and none shall be missing.” This verse correlates with last Sunday’s reading when the disciples were sent out two by two to teach and model the message of Jesus to others. Jesus knows he can’t reach every person in all the villages of Israel so he sends out disciples to help him. 

In today’s gospel those disciples return and report to Jesus all they had done and taught. You can imagine their excitement over what they accomplished. You can also imagine how exhausted they must be. Always compassionate and caring, Jesus suggests that they go to a deserted place and rest for a while and have something to eat. When they arrive at the deserted place crowds were already there waiting for 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.”

Have you ever spent time planning a special outing, spent money on tickets, and then had to cancel because your child got sick? Did you plan a vacation before the pandemic and then have all airlines shut down and hotels close? Have you planned the perfect wedding and then a snowstorm prevented guests from traveling to the church or reception? I’m sure, at some point in our lives, each of us has had to face a change in our plans.

Look at how Jesus reacted to his change of plans. “His heart was moved to pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.” How did you react to your change of plans? Did you react negatively and complain? Did you make life difficult for those around you? Or in your disappointment did you try to accept what happened and act as an adult who knew you could plan again in the future?

In his response, Jesus teaches us that plans do change – even for the Son of God! His first concern was for others. His compassion and concern for others was always in the forefront, not his own needs. This is the model for how we should live our lives. Love God, love self, love others. Realizing the needs of others should always be part of our plans or even in their cancellation.

How did you react when some of your plans were changes?

How can you increase your awareness of the needs of others?

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