16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Simham)
One year back I took one month off from the parish and visited my native parish in India. I thought of having good rest and seeing some of my childhood places. When I went there and attended to celebrate daily mass, I was asked to visit a sick person and with that my busy schedule started. Weekend I was asked to help a priest with masses and ended up saying two masses on Saturday evening and two masses on Sunday morning travelling almost 50 kilometres between the villages. And I was also asked to preach a retreat for two days. And my one month of holidays turned out to be more busier than the usual working days.
I am not mourning about what happened a one year back because I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to my native place in India. But the reason why I am saying this to you is, in the gospel today something similar is happening in the life of Jesus and his disciples. Intended holiday turning out to be a busy day. Last week we heard Jesus sending his apostles in pairs to all the surrounding villages to do his mission. And they return back after their long and adventurous journey. Jesus sees them tired and so he says, “Come let us get away to a lonely place so that you can have rest. You had a long journey and you did lot of work. Now you deserve rest. So. Come let us get away and have some rest.” But to their bad luck or good luck, great multitude follow them and gather around them. Wherever they go, people are there waiting. This is the time when most people moan and groan. They say we don’t have privacy. Please leave us alone. We need some time to be ourselves. We need rest. We are not machines. We are humans and we need rest and so on and so forth.
But Jesus has nothing to say except feeling sorry for them. Look at the way Jesus approaches that situation. He thinks that ‘they are like sheep without a shepherd. They need me the shepherd to feed them. Shepherd cannot say I need a break for a day or two. They totally depend on him to eat and survive. No holiday for a shepherd.’ So without complaining he works. He feeds them with his word. Till they are satisfied. Now this is the incident that happened in the life of Jesus some two thousand years ago. What does it mean for us today.
To me personally it says “I am a shepherd for 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Priesthood is a fulltime commitment. It is not that I am a priest from morning nine to evening six. No priesthood is a lifelong commitment. Whether I am in Nellore my diocese in India or in Aberdeen . I am a priest and I am a shepherd. No break please.
Secondly, to you and me it says ‘pursuit of holiness also is a 24 hours job, life long effort.’ You cannot take a break from the pursuit of holiness. You cannot say I have been a good boy or good girl for two years, now let take a break. For a month, I will not think of being good. No. Holiness needs life long effort. As St. Paul says, “My brothers never grow tired of doing good.”
That is lesson for you and me. Look at the crowd, how they search for Jesus. Nothing could stop them from searching for him. That is what the world today needs to learn. To search for him. In the huzzles and puzzles of life man and woman seldom have time for God. Seldom people have time to search for God. Seldom people feel the need for God. Because they think that the world has got everything to offer, therefore why God. No need. But remember there comes a time when they feel that all that the world offered them is empty and all that they achieved in the world is empty. So insipid and unfulfilling. Then they seek for something beyond the world. Then they seek for God. Some unfortunately die before they seek something beyond. In their emptiness and despair. Hear the words of the author of Ecclesiasus 12:1 “Remember(Search for) also your creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come.” And Jesus is saying to us, if I am ready to bless you all the time even without a break or holiday, why don’t you search for me. All those who seek him will find him. All those who seek him with sincere heart will find all that he has offer.
SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND EVERYTHING WILL BE GIVEN UNTO YOU.
Fr. Showreelu Simham