The Return of the Twelve

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Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Mark 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.


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I want to come away and rest with you awhile. Grant me the grace to seek you and listen to all that you try to teach me.


Encountering Christ:


  1. Gathering with Jesus: Imagine the excitement of the disciples returning from the “mini-mission,” having gone out to teach Jesus’s message. They were excited to share their stories of the people they met, their challenges, and how they had influenced those who listened. But they were also tired from the intense activity and looked forward to just being with Jesus. What a consolation to hear Jesus say, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” With Jesus and in Jesus we find the solitude and intimacy that our hearts long for after busy activity. We can hear his invitation to come away with him, even if it is in the quiet interior of our hearts. There we can share with him all we have been experiencing.
  2. Bringing Others to Jesus: Twice the disciples tried to have Jesus all to themselves, but failed. The very people they had probably taught were flocking to him. This is a good sign and fruit of the efficacy of the disciples’ teachings. Our efforts hopefully bring others to Jesus, as well as move the heart of Jesus to act on their behalf. As disciples of Christ, we are merely intercessors, stoking people’s flames of curiosity or desire to come and see Jesus. Jesus is ready with an open heart to receive them. As more and more people arrive, Jesus’s heart is moved with pity. Rather than complain about the inconvenience, he is faithful to his mission and promptly meets their needs.
  3. Jesus, My Shepherd: There is a dynamic that takes place with a shepherd and his flock, a way of being with one another that creates a sense of order and well-being. The sheep can graze in the pasture, protected from the wolves. They know the shepherd’s voice and thus follow him where he leads. Likewise, the shepherd looks upon his sheep, aware of their need for his guidance and protection for their well-being. Jesus is our Shepherd. He knows our deepest needs. He desires to protect and care for us. And through his voice–inspirations and nudgings of the heart–he teaches us the way to remain in his pasture. 


Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, Shepherd of my soul, teach me your way. Guide me and form my heart to be your disciple. I desire to find my rest with you, to share my day with you, and to receive your care, protection, and guidance. 


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will count my blessings for the ways in which you care for me and I will listen to how you try to guide me.

For Further Reflection: How to Discern, by Father Mike Schmitz.


Written by Jennifer Ristine.

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